A MEMOIR OF
LT.-COL. EDWARD ANTHONY STEEL, D.S.O.
LIEUT.-COL. E. A. STEEL, D.S.O.
A MEMOIR OF
ANTHONY STEEL, D.S.O.
R.H.A. AND R.F.A.
CONSISTING CHIEFLY OF HIS LETTERS AND DIARIES
WITH NUMEROUS ILLUSTRATIONS
COMPILED BY HIS FATHER
COLONEL J. P. STEEL
F.R.G.S., LATE ROYAL ENGINEERS
LONDON: SIMPKIN, MARSHALL,
HAMILTON, KENT & CO., LTD.
No, not for me be the cypress wreath braided,
Never o'er me be the proud marble reared ;
Vain all the show with which pomp hath paraded
Names that in hearts are enshrined and endeared.
R. C. C.
TO THE MEMORY OF MY SON .S COMRADES
WHO FELL IN THE GREAT WAR, AND TO
THE SURVIVORS, ESPECIALLY THOSE WHOSE
TENDER CARE WHEN HE WAS SEVERELY
WOUNDED ENABLED HIS RETURN TO DUTY; AND
TO HIS MANY FRIENDS IN THREE CONTINENTS
THIS RECORD OF AN EVENTFUL LIFE
AMONG civilised nations it has been the custom from the
earliest times to perpetuate the memory of their dead, and
to mark their final resting-place by monuments varying
in importance from the pyramid to the simple cross :
though it must be admitted that in our own country this
method of keeping green the memory of our departed has
not always resulted in erecting works representative either
of art or beauty.
In more recent times the tombstone and inscription on
brass tablet has to some extent superseded the monument,
except in the case of individuals of national or historical
importance ; and again, the epitaph has had its vogue,
in which the survivors endeavoured to assuage their grief,
as well as to mark their sense of loss, by exaggerating the
virtues and accomplishments of their lost relatives : the
Great War has caused us to reconsider many of our previous
conceptions of duty and conduct, and with our dead reckoned
in thousands our perspective has been altered. Still the
desire remains, and a recent discussion as to the form to be
taken has indicated its intensity ; and if any other evidence
were wanting it would be found in the periodical ' In
Memoriam ' insertions in the daily papers, in which the
epitaph of last century is superseded by suitable quotations
from classic or poet.
In all these cases the desire to locate the resting-place of
the dead has not been lost sight of, and the failure to discover
it has led to dubious methods of research.
The subject of this Memoir lies buried in the Cossack
cemetery at Omsk, a city of importance in Siberia, but
until recently little more than a geographical expression to
all but students of the East or of geography. His resting-
place may never be visited, before another generation it
may be forgotten ; and its very remoteness cannot be con-
templated without emotion. These considerations have
suggested an endeavour to keep the memory of this gallant
soldier green by substituting for marble or brass a simple
record of his short but eventful life. It will be seen from
the story that in September 1916 he was so severely wounded
that practically all hope of further distinction was denied
him, and he was condemned for one and a half years to
see his contemporaries not always of superior ability
pass over him and obtain further opportunity for distinction.
I know he felt this keenly. I sometimes think that we do
not give sufficient credit to our killed and wounded for
winning our battles ; it may well be that in some cases
they deserved more than the survivors : but let that pass,
except that perhaps it gives the clue to his departure on
his last adventure, when, according to general opinion, his
health was not sufficiently repaired for this undertaking.
I remember going to see him at school, and expressing
surprise to his schoolmaster that he shaped better at cricket
than I expected. His master remarked that he was very
modest about his own performances. This characteristic
he preserved through life, although his more than average
ability might easily have encouraged conceit. He was
of untiring industry ; whatever he attempted, he gave it
his best, and whether at work or play he was equally keen.
Under a somewhat brusque manner on first acquaintance,
due to a certain shyness that he never quite overcame,
he concealed a warm heart and an affectionate nature.
He was no courtier, and had scant regard for rank or station
unless it was supported by merit ; he was a shrewd observer
of competence or incompetence in those both above and
below him, and as far as I recollect, his judgment was
generally sound. He easily made friends with others of
similar tastes, and never forgot those who had been kind
to him, whatever their station of life. Besides being an
athlete of distinction, he had a decided talent for the
acquisition of languages, and whether in the study of
economics a course of which he passed with credit or in a
course of surveying which he undertook to fit himself as an
explorer and for boundary work, he displayed the same
industry and thoroughness. Socially, he was always an
acquisition. As master of the ceremonies, actor, or songster,
he was in great request, equally in the barracks with the
men or in general society.
His early death will be felt as a personal loss to many
beyond the family circle, both in the ranks of the Royal
Artillery and even in remote Rhodesia, and all will share
the regret that an adventure entered on with such high
hopes should have had such a disastrous result, and that his
last days should have been saddened by the knowledge
that the cause he had espoused had so far not been success-
ful. Writing to General Sir A. Holland, I made use of a
somewhat similar expression, and referring to this the
General wrote : ' I feel, however, that the touchstone of
life is not so much in achievement as in the single-minded
effort to assist in a noble cause, and judged by this standard,
your son's life gained its true end.' With that judgment
we may rest content.
J. P. S.
Early Life Education R.M.A.., Woolwich First Commission,
Aldershot Work and Play Transfer to Royal Horse Artillery
Funeral of Queen Victoria Manual of Artillery Practice
Exchange to India, departure L Battery, Secunderabad Life
there Trip to South India Kashmir Football Autumn
Manoeuvres Visit of Viceroy ..... 7
Festivities at Secunderabad, 1902 L Battery wins Football Cup-
Bombay Athletic Meeting, many Successes Secunderabad
Tournament, best Man-at-Arms ..... 18
Leave to England Military Tournament Sports at Aldershot
Presentation to King Range-finding Model Return to Secun-
derabad Autumn Manoeuvres Bombay Athletic Meeting
Football Accident Ordered Home King Edward vn. Hospital
Scotland Fit for General Service 23
Seconded for Service under Colonial Office Departure for Nigeria
Staff Officer under Major Trenchard 1905, Trip to Lokoja
Eket Return to Calabar Cross River Further Expedition
Leave to England . . -..',- * . ,32
Return to England School of Musketry, Hythe Survey Course at
Southampton Return to Nigeria Life and Work at Lagos
Blackwater Fever Return Home Lecture to Royal Geo-
graphical Society Gazetted Captain Joins 68th Battery,
R.F.A., Woolwich Trawsfynnid Gravesend Lecture at Geo-
graphical Institute, Newcastle Christmas . . .42
Joins Ordnance College Lecture at United Service Institution
Brother's Marriage Aviation Meeting, Doncaster Rejoins 68th
Battery Course of Economics, Clare Market Certificate
Transfer to 17th Battery, Hilsea Survey Course, Southampton 53
Offered Appointment to Anglo-Belgian Boundary Commission
Sails, January 1912 Work in Rhodesia Leave, November
Appointed Chief Commissioner Work on Boundary . . 58
Arrived in England, July 1914 Reports at War Office Ordered
on Service Leaves Southampton, August 27 Havre St.
Nazaire Le Mans Ordered to join 4th Division, 35th Battery
Jury In action to crossing the Aisne Ordered to North,
Oct. 7 March, Villers-Cotterets to Compiegne Train to Haze-
brouck, Oct. 12 In action Bailleul Chateau de Nieppe
Promoted Major . . /' . . . . . 78
Messines Neuve Chapelle Haig's Order, March 9 Affair of Neuve
Chapelle Reasons of Failure Attack on Aubers Ridge Festu-
bert Wounded Reasons of Failure June Festivities Instruc-
tion at School of Gunnery, Aire Comments on Operations of
Year Opinions of other Officers . . . . .93
Return to England Training New Artillery Return to France,
April 1916 Dangerously Wounded on Somme, September 15
King Edward vn. Hospital Convalescent Lecture to Royal
Geographical Society Reported Fit for Light Duty, April 1918 116
Anti-Aircraft Passed for General Service Embarked for Meso-
potamia Appointed Command Brigade Artillery Volunteers
for Service with British Military Mission, Siberia Journey
Singapore Shanghai, Visit and Festivities Vladivostok, Novo-
Nikolaevsk, Barnaul, Bisk, Omsk, Yekaterinburg General
Jack Illness and Death at Omsk Letters from General Knox
and Russian Officers Summary Conclusion . . . 131
GENEALOGY ........ 169
LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS
LiEUT.-CoL. E. A. STEEL Frontispiece
CAPTAIN OP HOCKEY AT DOVER COLLEGE ... 2
CADET, WOOLWICH 3
WINNING HURDLES, WOOLWICH 3
OFFICERS L BATTERY, R.H.A., ON FOOT . . . . 14
(From photograph by Messrs. Raja Deen Dayal <fc Sons, Nizam*'
and State Photographers)
OFFICERS L BATTERY, R.H.A., MOUNTED . . . 15
(From photograph by Messrs. Raja Deen Dayal & Sons, Nizams'
and State Photographers)
FINALISTS IN R.A. MADRAS FOOTBALL TOURNAMENT . 16
(Front photograph by Messrs. Raja Deen Dayal & Sons, Nizams'
and State Photographers)
LIEUT. E. A. STEEL AT BOMBAY ATHLETIC MEETING . 17
( From photograph by Messrs. Raja Deen Dayal tk Sons, Nizam*'
and State Photographer*)
OFFICERS OF NIGERIA REGIMENT ..... 32
ARTILLERY OF NIGERIA REGIMENT ..... 33
CAPT. E. A. STEEL AT TRAWBFYNNID . . . . 52
OFFICERS AT ORDNANCE COLLEGE, 12th ORDNANCE COURSE,
MEMBERS OF THE ENGLISH COMMISSION .... 58
MEMBERS OF THE BELGIAN COMMISSION . . . . . 58
GATHERING COPPER ORE IN KAMBOVE . . . . 59
TUNNEL INTO THE COPPER MOUNTAIN . 59
CAPT. E. A. STEEL ........ 60
SKETCH MAP (CONGO-ZAMBEZI WATERSHED) ... 61
xvi LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS
THE UPPER KAFUE RIVER 64
KANSANSHI MINE . . . ; 64
THE COMMISSION'S TRACTION TRAIN , 65
ZAMBEZI EXPRESS ARRIVING AT ELIZABETHVILLE . . 65
GROUP OF OFFICERS 35iH BATTERY, AT COMPIEGNE, OCT.
1914 . . . . . . . . . 100
GROUP OF MEN 35TH BATTERY, AT COMPIEGNE, OCT. 1914 100
SIGNALLING STATION, FESTUBERT, APRIL 1915 . . 101
SIGNALLING STATION, FROMELLES, APRIL 1915 . . 101
GROUP OF OFFICERS 35ra BATTERY, AUGUST 1915 . . 108
GROUP OF 'No. IV OF GUNS AND BATTERY ARTIFICER,
MAY 1915 109
SCENE ON THE OB 144
GROUP OF OFFICERS AT BARNAUL, 1919 . . . . 144
TRAINING RUSSIAN ARTILLERY AT BARNAUL . . . 145
LiEUT.-CoL. E. A. STEEL AND MR. WILTON DURING THE
RETREAT FROM YEKATERINBURG . . . . 145
FUNERAL PARADE IN THE SQUARE, OMSK . . . 160
MOURNERS FORMING UP IN CATHEDRAL SQUARE . . 161
GUN-CARRIAGE COVERED WITH WREATHS . . . 161
PROCESSION OPPOSITE CATHEDRAL . . . . . 166
ANOTHER VIEW OF THE PROCESSION, CHARGER FOLLOWING 166
THE GRAVE OF LIEUT. -CoL. E. A. STEEL . . . 167
The Illustrations facing pp. 58 and 59 are from blocks lent by South
Africa, and those facing pp. 61 to 65 from blocks lent by the Royal
EDWARD ANTHONY STEEL
Early Life Education R.M.A., Woolwich First Commission,
Alder shot Work and Play Transfer to Royal Hone Artillery
Funeral of Queen Victoria Manual of Artillery Practice
EDWARD ANTHONY STEEL, the subject of this memoir, was
born at Ajmere on December 12, 1880. His parents were
temporarily residing in the Residency, which had been
placed at their disposal by the Governor-General's Agent
and Chief Commissioner of Ajmere, Major Bradford, 1 who
was on tour, and to whose administration Major Steel, R.E.,
was Secretary in the Public Works Department. On the
return of the Chief Commissioner, Mrs. Steel returned with
her children to Mount Abu, and remained there until 1884,
when Major Steel was advised to take sick leave and came
Shortly after reaching England Major and Mrs. Steel
settled at Park Gate, Wanstead, and in 1886 Major Steel
returned to India and resumed his duties in Rajputana.
For those interested in genealogical inquiries the pedigree
of E. A. Steel is given in an appendix, and can be referred
to by those who desire information in such matters.
Edward Anthony Steel remained at Park Gate, Wan-
stead, with his mother until 1889, when the lease of
the house at Wanstead expired and Mrs. Steel decided
to make a trip to India and spend the summer at Naini
Tal, where Lt.-Col. Steel, now Chief Engineer and Secretary
to the Government of the N.W.P., was residing ; and as
1 Later Col. Sir E. R. C. Bradford, Bart,, Q.C.B., G.C.V.O., K.C.S.I.
2 A MEMOIR OF
the boy Edward was not old enough to be sent to school,
Mrs. Steel took him with her.
The journey, at the hottest tune in the year, was unevent-
ful, except that at Malta they encountered Col. Helsham-
Jones, R.E., 1 who took care of them and placed them
under an obligation that they never forgot.
Their stay at Naini Tal, in the entourage of the Lt.-Gov.,
Sir Auckland Colvin, passed pleasantly enough. During
that exceptionally heavy rainy season many houses were
damaged, and it was necessary to consider whether Govern-
ment House should be removed to the opposite side of
the lake. 2
The season over, Col. Steel returned to his duty with
the Government, and Mrs. Steel, with Edward, went to
Calcutta, visiting on the way her brother, Sydney Thuillier,
a tea-planter in Behar, and enrolled in the Behar Light
In Calcutta they stayed a week with her brother, Col.
(now Sir H.) Thuillier, Surveyor-General of India, and
eventually embarked hi the P. and 0. steamer for Colombo,
where they were met by her cousins, the Firmmgers, and
after a short visit continued their journey home.
In the following year, 1891, Col. Steel obtained furlough
and came home, and the family settled at Lowestoft on the
East Coast. The eldest son, John Miles, went to Stubbing -
ton preparatory to joining the Navy, the daughter, Frances,
and Edward remained at home for a year, after which
Frances was sent to St. Margaret's, at that time a well-
known school in Trafalgar Square, Chelsea, and Edward
to Messrs. Bruton and Os borne at Brighton. He remained
there till 1895. It should be said here that it had been
intended to send him to Winchester, but after much con-
sideration and Dr. Fearon's assurance that the curriculum
at Winchester would be of little assistance to him if he
went to Woolwich, this plan was rejected and he was sent
to Dover College, mainly on the representation of Col.
Eteson (Bursar of the College), whom Col. Steel had known
1 Died 1920. * This has since been carried out.
WINNING HURDLES, WOOLWICH.
Facing p. 3.
EDWARD ANTHONY STEEL 3
intimately in India. 1 From there he passed into Woolwich.
He got no prizes in the classes, but obtained the first in
Riding, Horsemanship, and Swimming, and in Athletics
To his great chagrin he just missed going to the Boer
War. At the end of a year at Woolwich, the Cadets were
asked to elect if they would go out at once or stay on and
take their chance of getting engineers. Edward decided
to remain, but the arrangement was upset immediately
afterwards, and he was flung out and consequently below
all his juniors in the previous term, and in the meantime
the last Batteries to go to Africa were completed.
Receiving his first commission in January 1900, he was
posted to the 49th Brigade, consisting of three Howitzer
Batteries, Nos. 146, 147, 148, of a newly-formed brigade
then being mobilised for the Boer War under Major Battis-
combe, from recruits strengthened by the return of several
convalescents from South Africa, and Lt. Steel was posted
to the 148th Battery, Major Lyon, R.F.A., O.C. 2
1 Mr. Lee, the present Head Master of Dover College, has kindly given
me the following account of his career.
' Your son's batting averages were as follows :
No. of Innings. Total Highest Times not Average.
Runs. Score. Out.
1897 . . 11 47 16* 3 6-87
1898 . . 11 233 61* 2 25-88
' He played three-quarter back in the Football Team, forward in the
Hockey XI. He was in the Running Team in 1897 and won the 120 yards
Hurdle Race in 18fr seconds in the Inter-School Sports with King's School,
Canterbury, and Button Valence School. In 1898 he won the Hurdles
again in 18| seconds.
' I well remember persuading him to do his hurdles in three strides
and was proud when he won the Championship in India. He was a
fine, all-round man, and I was very sorry indeed to hear of his death.'
a Major Lyon, who commanded the 148th Battery, wrote of him: 'Lt.
Steel, R.F.A., served in my Battery for about twelve months in 1900-1.
He showed much zeal and energy, and every promise of being a most
capable officer. He left the Battery to join the R.H.A.'
4 A MEMOIR OF
He, like other young officers at that time, was anxious
to get to South Africa, and he wrote to General Raper,
who had known him from childhood, asking him whether
he had any chance of going either with drafts to replace
casualties, or if he could be attached to some South African
Native Corps. General Raper told him that, as he be-
longed to a Battery already detailed to be in readiness
for South Africa if the artillery of the 8th Division were
ordered to go, he was not likely to be taken except with
his own Battery. As regards employment with a native
regiment, the artillery being short of officers, no R.A.
officer would be allowed to go at that time. And there
would be no advantage in getting his name down on the
list for that Service.
On receipt of this reply he settled down to his work in
the Battery, took on the secretaryship of the football club,
and did all he could to train his men for war or peace.
The result of his work will appear later. As to his success
with the football club, it is on record that he succeeded
in getting his Battery into the second round of the Army
Football Challenge Cup, first by playing a drawn game
with the 3rd Worcesters, and then beating them by 5 1.
The affair at this time caused tremendous excitement at
Aldershot and was commented on in the Broad Arrow,
which gave a full account of the game, adding : ' The result
is highly satisfactory, and Lt. Steel, R.F.A., the Hon.
Sec. of the R.A. Football Club, is to be congratulated on
having got the R.A. Aldershot Team into the second round
for the Challenge Cup. The following composed the team,
one man short throughout the game :
' Goal : Gunner James. Backs : Driver Ames and
Gunner Taylor. Half-backs : Lt. Gray, Lt. Steel (Capt.),
and Driver Slater. Forwards : Gunner Bristoe, Driver
Griffiths, Sergeant Baxter, and Gunner Hampson.'
It was not only at football that Lt. Steel thus early
made his mark ; he also acquired the reputation of being a
smart officer at his work, and later on in the year he was
EDWARD ANTHONY STEEL 5
selected for the Horse Artillery (1901), and ordered to join
V Battery, part of which was then at St. John's Wood
Barracks, the remainder having gone to Australia with
Commenting on the transfer the Broad Arrow remarked :
' Footballers will be sorry to learn that 2nd Lt. E. A. Steel,
the popular Secretary of the 148th Battery Team, has been
transferred to V Battery, Royal Horse Artillery, at St.
With only the skeleton of the Battery there was not
much occupation for an energetic officer. It happened that
Lt. Steel was detailed on January 31, with twenty mounted
men, to act as signallers during the funeral procession on
that date of Her Majesty Queen Victoria, and to act as
orderlies to the G.O.C. Home District, the order being
signed by F. C. Ricardo. 1 On April 2 he was promoted 1st
Lieutenant, and as only a section of the Battery was there,
and only one subaltern besides himself, he did not find the
work very attractive, and when he heard from Messrs.
Cox and Co. that an officer in L Battery at Secunderabad
(Lt. Hambro) was anxious to make an exchange, he
availed himself of the opportunity, arranged the transfer
with the War Office Authorities, and prepared to embark
for India, employing his spare time in preparing a manual
for artillery practice, of which Cattermole 2 of Woolwich
was the publisher.
The following is an extract from a letter written by Col.
Aylmer to Maj.-Gen. J. A. Steel, uncle of Lt. E. A. Steel.
' This,' wrote Col. Aylmer, ' is a most useful little work,
and should answer its purpose admirably ; it is not often
that one hears of such a very young officer taking so much
pains and trouble in the interests of the Service to which
he belongs, and being able at such an age to impart such
useful knowledge. Wlien I served in the Horse and
1 Now Col. Francis Cecil Ricardo, C.V.O., A.A.Q. Home District, 1900
1904, High Sheriff of Berkshire, 1913.
2 The Horse and Field Artilleryman's Handbook, containing section
gun drill of the 12- and 15-pounder guns. By Lt. E. A. Steel, R.H.A.
Field Artillery I should have been very glad to have had
young subalterns so keen and zealous. This young officer
ought to go far, and if he keeps up his knowledge he is
certain to be well thought of and given chances of dis-
tinguishing himself. He is lucky, for he belongs to the
finest Service in the world and joins it young.'
Exchange to India, departure L Battery, Secunderabad Life there
Trip to South India Kashmir Football Autumn Manoeuvres
Visit of Viceroy.
HE sailed from Southampton in the P. and O. steamer
Peninsular. He suffered terribly from seasickness as far
as Gibraltar. Feeling better on arrival at Gibraltar, he
managed to land, and went up to call on Lady White, but
was disappointed at not finding her at home ; for this reason,
no doubt, he did not mention it in his letter from Marseilles,
and it only transpired through a letter from Lady White
to Mrs. Steel of which the following is an extract :
' THK CONVENT, GIBRALTAR,
' Oct. 4, 1901.
' I am more grieved than I can say that I have missed
seeing your son. Your letter reached me when I was just
recovering from the Royal visits, and I did not mention,
as I should have done, that I was expecting to see your
boy off the Peninsular. When he called we were on
board the Majestic lunching with the Admiral, and when
we returned home it was too late to see your son. The
Peninsular had sailed. I am so sorry, for we love to see
our friends, or any one belonging to them.'
He passed through Egypt without incident, and had a
lovely voyage from there to Bombay.
He stayed at Watson's Hotel, and Hambro, with whom
he had made his exchange, came round to see him and
brought his butler. 1
1 The butler or body servant on the Bombay side of India ia a general
servant and is usually passed on to a new-comer.
8 A MEMOIR OF
After a long journey of about twenty hours he arrived
at Begumpet, about five miles from Trimulgherry, where
' Greathead came to meet me in the Battery Coach.'
The Battery at that time consisted of : Major lad, on
leave, Capt. Greathead, Lt. Jocelyn Mellor, Lt. E. A. Steel,
Lt. J. V. Ramsden. 1
* I was rather disappointed with the place which was to
be my home for some time to come. I expected to find a
big place something like Aldershot, but you would think
there was no one here but yourself, and our lines are
nearly a mile off the Mess. There is not much sport about
here. No pig-sticking. Very little football or cricket,
and not much hi the way of society.
' We live in quarters here, not nearly so nice as a bungalow.
I have the room next to Jocelyn. 2 We have excellent
servants, and they keep everything very nice.'
'April 10. Jocelyn arrived here suddenly, a week
before his leave was up, so there are three of us hi our
Battery. I have bought rather a fine horse, a bay
Australian, and he is arriving to-day.
* Jocelyn is very fit after his sojourn in the Jungle, and
has come back with two fine tigers, besides trophies of other
* I am devoting my time, or whatever is left, to the Battery
Football, in which neither Greathead, J., nor Ramsden take
1 Josslyn V. Ramsden (now Lieut.-Col.), D.S.O., 1915, B.A., son of
John C. F. Ramsden, grandson of Sir J. Ramsden, 4th Baronet, the
only survivor of these officers.
* Jocelyn Mellor (second son of C. W. Mellor, Esq., J.P., Brighton,
formerly I.C.S., and Florence (n6e Thuilh'er), his mother's sister) obtained
his first commission from Woolwich in 1897, and was therefore three
years senior to E. A. Steel. He was a keen soldier, beloved by his men,
towards whom he combined strict discipline with sympathetic . treat-
ment to all who were anxious to become efficient. He was described by
General Francis as the best H.A. subaltern he had ever known, and this
character was endorsed by the O.C. of his own battery. In private life
he was universally popular, owing to his attractive personality and his
chivalrous and generous bearing to all within his social circle, a keen and
intrepid sportsman. For the cause of his early death, which was deplored,
not only by his comrades in the Service, but by all who valued its tradi-
tions, see p. 39.
EDWARD ANTHONY STEEL 9
any interest. The men are getting quite keen ; we hope
to win the Cup, which comes on soon.'
' June 16. I had my Exam, yesterday, and hope I
have passed, so I may go and see Hart, who is near Madras,
I think, and then go and see Aunt Bea. 1 They have just
got two months' leave and have gone to Murree. I propose
going to join them in Kashmir, where they have gone for
two months, so I am planning a short journey in Southern
India. I propose going to Madras, Pondicherry, Trichino-
poly, Tuticorin, Calicut, Bangalore, Mysore, and finally up
to Goa. I hope I may get back safely. I shall have to do
some part of the journey in somebody's bullock cart if they
will let me.'
' June 24. I have just returned from my last trip and
am on my way to Kashmir to join Aunt Bea at
' June 29. I arrived at Baramula on the way to Kashmir.
A very nice bungalow on the banks of the Jhelum.
' I find I shall have to wait till to-morrow for a pony.
In front of me the Jhelum flows very smooth, until about
100 yds. further down it becomes a torrent. I have passed
my " A " and " B " all right.'
' July 8, Gulmurg. I have been here a week, and am just
recovering from the effects of a journey which took nearly
eight days. Arrived here last Sunday from Baramula in
drenching rain on a small pony.
' They were very surprised to see me on such a terrible
day. After this we had a whole week of fine weather, and
I have had a ripping time. I have met Mrs. Atkinson,
Mrs. and Sybil Beecher, Mrs. MacNeill and her brother,
who knows John 2 well, Captain Fisher and Leslie.*
' I have just heard my leave has been extended till the
31st of this month ; so I shall leave here about the 22nd,
visiting Srinagar on the way. I was very glad I came, as
1 Aunt Bea (nte, Davies), wife of Col. W. Thuillier, I.S.C., his mother's
* His elder brother, Lt. John Miles Steel, R.N., at that time command-
ing T.B. Destroyer Flying Fish.
* Leslie Thuillier, his cousin.
10 A MEMOIR OF
next year I hope to get home for Frances' 1 wedding, and I
think I shall like my own part of the country much better
when I get back.'
' July 20, Srinagar. I have left Gulmurg, " the Meadow
of Roses," now for ever, and am stopping here two days on
my way back. This seems a wonderful place, rather like
Venice, I expect, as you do everything hi boats. Pull up
at any one's shop which faces the river, and then go on.
I have arranged a trip for to-morrow on the water to
see everything for miles around, so I will go on with this
later on. I was sorry to leave Gulmurg hi a way. There
were some nice people there and it 's a nice change from
T'gherry, where there 's nought but soldiering, but I shall
be glad to get back, I think.'
' Sunday. I don't think I 've ever had a day more unlike
a Sunday than to-day. I like keeping Sunday rather,
but you can't in a place like this. Ali Jan, a great em-
broidery merchant, came round in the morning, and I had
to go off to his shop, and I got back here at 2 o'clock this
' Dal Lake. I woke up this morning with a beautiful
sun shining hi the middle of the most beautiful lake in the
world. Was surprised by a man turning up in a small
boat with wares for sale. How the little boat didn't upset
I don't know, but he was almost buried behind bundles
of things, which consisted chiefly of guns, rifles (some of
his own make, he said), knives, old Persian tulwars, etc.
These he spread out on the deck. I explained that I was
not going to buy anything at all and had come out for a
rest. My boatman, however, played the game well, and I
tossed him for half of the real value of the goods in question.
Luck was on my side, so I came away with another bundle
of goods. To make up for my luck, he suggested I should
purchase one of his guns an absurd thing, of course, on the
face of it, to go and buy a gun out here so I suggested,
not to hurt him, we should try them, and he seemed pleased,
1 Frances, his sister, married L. H. Carr-Birkbeck, M.B., who served
during the war with B.A.M.C. and retired in 1919 with rank of Major.
EDWARD ANTHONY STEEL 11
so we landed on a little island called Sonahawk, about
30 yds. broad only, with some trees, and black sheep
grazing. He wanted me to try his own make, 600 bore
rifle with Eley cordite bullet which he supplied, and the
boatman being greatly excited, stuck up a bit of paper on
a tree about 20 yds. off. So just to show them what I could
do, I took aim and fired. My shoulder was nearly blown
off, and a bit of tree came back and nearly stunned me.
The tree nearly fell down and the sheep all ran into the
water and were nearly drowned, so I returned Ramzanah
his own make rifle, and we left the island amidst the shouts
of the boatmen, who were greatly impressed with the Sahib's
shooting. Our next place was the " Nishat Bagh," where
we landed. It consisted of a sort of palace, and behind were
gardens beautifully laid out in terraces, and rivulets running
through it from the mountain, which towered gloriously
behind. I was rather afraid at first of landing, as I couldn't
believe a place like this was meant for any casual visitor.
But I did, and apparently it was uninhabited, save for a
few gardeners who were sleeping. The garden was full of
every kind of fruit imaginable, one hardly knew which to
pick first, but the peaches, which grew like plums, received
most of my attention. It reminded one more of fairy tales
one reads, and more than once I felt as if I were wandering
through dreamland and should suddenly meet some fairy
who would turn me into an animal for trespassing. It is
hard to express on paper one's feelings on being alone in
one of the most beautiful spots on this earth, so far away
from one's home, but I had to leave it, as the day was getting
on and I must be back. We went on to another place
exactly the same, where half -civilised Kashmiris live in
absolute bliss and ignorance of their beautiful surroundings.
I got back at 8 P.M., dined at the hotel, and then returned
to my boat, which I had taken round to the place where
the Tonga started at 4 A.M. next morning. As I am travel-
ling down with the English mail I will go on with this along
' July 26, Gwalior. Arrived here. Staying at the Guest
12 A MEMOIR OF
House, which the Maharajah has built for strangers, but it
is more like a palace, with pagoda and turret and beautifully
' July 27. Arrived at Bhopal. I love these Indian
places which the white man does not frequent, they are the
only places where one sees Hindoo life in reality. I thought
I had been hi some hot places, but never before like to-day.
As I write in the moon, beads of perspiration are streaming
down all parts of my body I have lost many pounds.'
* July 28. Went on to Indore. At the Residency met
Capt. Dixon, R.H.A., who took me back to dinner. Same
day left for Bombay, arriving on the 31st at Trimul-
' Aunt Bea was awfully nice and wouldn't let me pay
for anything. It was a good idea sending my book to
Mrs. Eustace. 1 I must write to her. I think I am rather
good at travelling by train. I don't mind the heat a bit,
although it was hot at Gwalior.
* J. is commanding the Battery and doing it well, too,
Greathead having gone to Bangalore for a Garrison class.
' I think I told you last mail we had beaten the 49th.
The Final was put off last Thursday on account of Lt.
Harvey's (4th Hussars) death, and we played the 23rd
yesterday in the Final. However, the 23rd have protested
that the umpire played over tune. I don't know if I told
you in my last letter that I heard from Nellie Clarke.' 2
' Sept. 4, The Mount, Madras. I have got here at last. This
is a very charming place. Two nice rivers with a beautiful
Boating Club, a Gymkhana Club, Racing, and Swimming
Baths. So that it is far superior to Bombay in that way,
but the heat is terrific.'
1 Now Lady Eustace (n6e Marina Stewart), the second of four beautiful
daughters of the late Sir Donald Stewart, married Capt. (now Sir) Francis
Eustace, K.C.B., at that time commanding B.A. at Aldershot, now Col.-
1 Nellie Clarke (' the Fairy of Portland Place '), only daughter of Gen.
Sir Andrew Clarke of the Royal Engineers, Governor of Straits Settle-
ments, Member of Indian Council, etc., married Commander (now Capt.)
Sueter, C.B., B.N.
EDWARD ANTHONY STEEL 13
'Sept. 11, Madras. No news except the sad bit that we
were beaten yesterday in the Final by the 55th, who had
come from Belgaum. Every one expected us to win, and
photographers had made arrangements to take us next
day with the Cup for different English papers. We leave
this evening for Secunderabad.'
' Sept. 24. You have heard that our football campaign
was not a success. It is very nice here for football really,
but not so at Madras, where the heat is terrible. I am
sending home the account of the Hyderabad City and the
festival we all went to. I want you to try and get some one
to take it. I will also send an account of our two Batteries
for the Final Madras Cup with the combined photo.
' I have done nothing, except playing a game of cricket
last Sunday, and since then we have had parades every
day. To-day I am going up to spend the day with the
Reids at Bolarum.'
' Oct. 16. To-morrow will be the last day of the Races,
and as I have a horse running, I am keen on being down
there ; after that I have a rehearsal for a piece I am acting
in. It comes off in a fortnight, and I have only just been
given the piece. It is called Id on parle francais. I have
been laid up again the last few days with a kick from a
horse on the knee, and it is not right yet.
' I have just come back from the rehearsal (8 P.M.). It
went off fairly well. We had a very nice afternoon at the
Races, only my horse lost, he was just hustled into 3rd
' I told you I was laid up with my knee and am thankful
for the rest, and I know J. wishes he could get one too ; it
would be a well-earned one. You will be glad to hear
that we have done awfully well in our preliminary exams.,
such as Fuze-setting and Laying, and beaten the other
' Oct. 31. Last Friday I felt a little fever coming on. I
went to bed, and I am hi it to-day. For one week I have
been suffering from a shocking headache all the time. It
went off yesterday, as well as the fever, and this afternoon
14 A MEMOIR OF
I am having my residence transferred to Bolarum to stay
with the Reids and be looked after. He is a Gunner Captain
in one of the Hyderabad Contingents.
' A shocking bit of luck has happened to me. My syce,
riding my beautiful young racing horse, "Flying Fish,"
let him run away ran him into a tree, fell off himself,
and the horse in some wonderful way was walked up to the
sick lines, where after an operation he died in fearful agony.
A piece of the tree had entered his flank and caused a terrible
wound. There 's over 1000 rupees gone in one blow !
It has made me quite sick of the place now. I 've had a
rotten time since I 've been out here no luck anywhere.'
* Nov. 14. I returned from Bolarum to duty again, and
last week we had Inspections every day by General Stopford,
R.A., previous to going to Practice Camp.'
(The whole of November was spent in Practice Camp at
'Dec. 5. We are now back in Barracks again, and very glad
too. I told you we had won the First Prize and First Class,
and may win the Madras Presidency Shield. I have just
heard from the Barrs, 1 asking me to go there to dinner and
meet the Franks. 2 They have also asked me to a dance on
the 17th. I am playing football to-day. Dining at the
Residency to-night. Hyderabad Contingent Dance on the
next day. Our Gunners' Dance on the llth, so we are
quite gay for this place.'
' Dec. 26. Yesterday we celebrated Christmas in a sort
of fashion, but we were content to let it pass without much
notice. In the evening a silent minute was spent in drink-
ing the health of those at home. Otherwise the place was
more deserted than ever. Christmas certainly makes one
1 Col. Sir David Barr, K.C.S.I., Resident of Hyderabad.
* Captain Norman Franks, C.I.E., formerly in the Buffs. In his
young days, one of the best steeplechase riders in Europe. He retired
young, and invested his capital in coffee plantation with great success.
He was a proficient linguist and became tutor to Holkar, and on retiring
therefrom was decorated with the Companionship of the Indian Empire.
He lost his only son at Cappy, quite early in the war. He was adjutant
of his regiment.
EDWARD ANTHONY STEEL 15
feel how far away it is to home, and how lonely one
' In the report on Manoeuvres His Excellency, the C.-in-C.,
observes the H.A. was most skilfully handled. It does
not seem like me to have a bit of luck like that I mean
Capt. Greathead going sick and I commanding. J. was
on the other side with two guns. 1
' The Assault -at -Arms is on all this week and finishes on
Saturday. At present I have won the Heads and Posts
(Mounted) and the Bayonet versus Sword. The latter has
done for my thumb nearly, he caught me right across the
fingers with his sword.'
* Feb. 27. We are having this week R.A. Sports, and I
am a groundsman. Many thanks for Marion Doughty's
book about Kashmir it is splendid.' 2
' Mar. 20. The Secunderabad season is over and people
are beginning to leave us. In fact, every one talks of going
somewhere except myself. We have been fairly gay this
week what with the Burlesque, Regatta at the Boat Club
Football Tournament dances and dinners then there
was the wedding at the Residency between Captain Walker,
4th Hussars, and Miss Barr. The Nizam lent them a
magnificent gold carriage which we Captain Greathead,
Ramsden, and myself pulled nearly to pieces with six
R.A. horses. It was a great show.
' The Viceroy arrives at Hyderabad on the 29th. We
are going down to do escort, I think. I have had a very
nice letter from Mrs. Eustace ; she says she hasn't heard
or seen you for ages.
' Major and Mrs. Cloete have arrived, they seem very nice.
I have got two horses now, but one is a brute ; he has been
absolutely spoilt in the Riding School and become unsafe to
1 An interesting account with a map has been omitted for want of
* Afoot through the Kcuhmir Valley, M. D. (Helton Mervyn). Sands
and Co., London. 1902.
16 A MEMOIR OF
' April 3. I have been at the Residency with my Section,
a Squadron of 4th Hussars and Detachment Middlesex,
doing escort to the Viceroy. We were asked to lunch and
introduced to every one. Being in the R.H.A. I am senior
to every one else there on this show. Lady Curzon is quite
the most beautiful woman I have ever seen. The Viceroy
and party have now gone out to do their shoot and come
back just to see the Lungaur. I am sending a photograph
of our L Battery Officers and N.C.O.'s.
' Our new Major * is simply a ripper. However, I can't
stay long in the R.H.A. It is the finest branch in the
Service ; every year more is expected from the subaltern
in it. I know my work, but I can't see well enough to do
it, so it 's no good.'
* April 16. I was down at Hyderabad on Good Friday
and Easter Day. Good Friday we spent going down there,
and Easter Day in Camp. I couldn't go to church as I
wanted to, not being able to find out at what time or where
(The following refers to the article on Hyderabad from
which the account of the Festival has been extracted.
The article gives a very good account of Hyderabad, but
it is beyond the scope of this Memoir.)
'May 22. I had a letter from the Editor of Wide
World, and he says it was refused because the photos,
were not of first-class interest. I have been pretty busy
all this week getting up an R.A. Concert in the open
air, which came off yesterday. I am afraid it was not
very good, there was too much wind. I had two Nigger
Troupes in it from start to finish, and was "Corner" man in
one and " Massa Johnson " in the last. And I also sang
" Fancy Meeting You." I hope the wedding will go off
well. I have written down the date in my Diary.'
' May 28. Time is going by and I have plenty to do in
one way and another ; so much that I shall be here all the
year, and will not go away except to go home. J. is com-
manding now for ten days, and then goes on two months'
1 Major (now Col.) Cloete.
LIEUT. E. A. STEEL AT BOMBAY ATHLETIC MEETING, 1902.
Facing p. i;
EDWARD ANTHONY STEEL 17
leave, shooting, and I shall be here with the Major, which I
like. I am having a very good time really, and getting to
like the climate in a way. But I am not playing football
twice a week in fact, my doctor says it is not right but I
have a lot to do with the men. I have a Reconnaissance
Class for a month, and I am generally getting up a concert
Festirities at Secunderabad, 1902 L Battery wins Football Cup-
Bombay Athletic Meeting, many Successes Secunderabad Tourna-
ment, best Man-at- Arms.
'June 19. I am getting up a show in the theatre amongst
the men for June 28, and am also responsible for the Corona-
tion week, which I have arranged for Secunderabad society,
and also trying to run the Fancy Dress Ball, which every
one wants run in a different way.'
PROGRAMME OF FIXTURES FOR 23RD-28TH JUNE
Monday WATBB GYMKHANA : Boat Club. DANCE, U.S. Club.
Tuesday SEMI-ITNAL POLO : R.A. ' At Home.'
4th Hussars Ground.
Wednesday SKITTLE GYMKHANA, Secunderabad. CALICO BALL, Central
Middlesex Regt. ' At Home.' Gymnasium.
FUTTEH MAEDAN GYMKHANA RACES.
FINAL POLO : 4th Hussars Ground. FANCY DKKSS BALL.
4th Hussars ' At Home.' U.S. Club.
AMERICAN TENNIS TOURNAMENT,
R.A. NIGGER MIN-
* July 20. Still very busy, in fact I shall be quite glad
when all the festivity is over. We had our Fancy Dress
Ball last night. Then I went down to the station to see
the General's 1 and Milman's ponies off. They have left for
Ooty this morning.
' Our Football Tournament comes on Sept. 1, so I must
1 Sir G. T. Pretyman, K.C.M.G., C.B., Major-General, Colonel-
Commandant Royal Artillery (deceased).
A MEMOIR OF EDWARD ANTHONY STEEL Id
take that up now. Last year we went to Madras and were
beaten in the Final. After all, I am having a good time,
what with polo, driving the brake and tandem, and getting
up different shows, though I feel I am wasting my time.
The Barrs have come back from Ooty. He is now Sir
David. The Viceroy is coming down to Mysore for the
coronation of the Maharajah, and it is going to be a splendid
show. He wants to have his proper escort, viz. : one
Battery R.H.A. and one Regiment of Cavalry.
' There 's a dance at the Club this Saturday. The Battery
are giving a dinner beforehand, Major Cloete, Capt.
Greathead, and myself Ramsden has not come back yet.'
* Aug. 21. One certainly likes this country the more one
stays, but it takes time to get used to it. Last Saturday
the first of the R.A. Tournament was played. We played
the 23rd and beat them. This afternoon we played the
49th and the Final in the first round. The Finals are to
be played here this year. Our match had to be stopped on
account of the rain, when the score was even. This should
reach you in time for John's birthday, so please wish him
very many happy returns of it for me. How nice to be at
home for it ! '
' Sept. 8. Just a line to tell you we have won the Cup,
but we had to play the 55th twice for it.
' Jocelyn has gone for three weeks' leave to Ooty. I don't
know what he '11 do there. He falls in love with every
girl that comes here, so I don't know what will be the result
of his Ooty trip. Very light-hearted is J. He has got his
jungle fever on again and has gone there to try and get rid
' Sept. 21. I was awfully glad to hear John has got some-
thing good. I have been on regimental duty all this week,
and so have not left the place all the week. I have the men
out in the afternoon after stables. We are still practising
Tug-of-War for the Assault -at -Arms. The Bombay Athletic
Meeting comes off Oct. 27. I may go and compete in the
Hurdles, Quarter Mile, and Long Jump.'
' Oct. 6. The Assault-at-Arms has been on all this week.
20 A MEMOIR OF
I am sending you an Indian Sporting Times which contains
photo, of my Team. I am trying to get fit for Bombay,
but it 's very hard trying to play football and train for
running, as a kick might knock you out at any moment.'
' Oct. 23. Monday week the Assault -at -Arms starts, and
I have been trying to train for that. I want to get Medal
for best man-at-arms very badly ; shall be very glad when
it 's all over and I can settle down. There is plenty on hi
the Battery, of course, too. I am going to sing in a concert
at the Hyderabad Contingent to-morrow night.'
' Oct. 30. I managed to go to Bombay on Saturday
morning. I thought I had left it too late, but I managed
to work off the tram journey and arrive on Sunday morning.
I had to put the men through a laying test on Friday
afternoon which the Major wanted me to stop for, also a
concert on Friday evening at the Hyderabad Contingent at
home, at which I said I would sing, so I didn't start so soon
as I intended. Of course, as you know, I have never done
much in the way of running, except the Hurdles, which I
have made a speciality of, though it 's 2| years since I have
done them. I was never better than 3rd in the Quarter Mile,
though, as you know, I won a good Quarter Mile at Camberley
once. However, I always thought I ought to be able to run
a quarter of a mile, so I entered for these two events. It
is an open meeting for all India and any one can enter. I
should have looked stupid if I had come all the way to
Bombay without doing anything, especially as every one
knew I was going ; so it was with anything but confidence
that I started off on Saturday morning.
' I arrived on Sunday morning, looked about for an hotel,
changed into running clothes and went on my bicycle to
the ground. Luckily for me, a tram journey does me no
harm . I tried the hurdles , which were beautiful, and a lovely
field of turf got my stride and start, etc. had a good
look at the Quarter-Mile Course and returned to breakfast.
Of course, at that time 9 A.M. no one is out taking
exercise, so I had the ground to myself. At 3.30 the Sports
began, and the Hurdles were 3rd Race. I lined up, fairly
EDWARD ANTHONY STEEL 21
confident of not being far behind. As the pistol went off
I got a good start and got going at once, and was never
touched by any one. My time was 16 seconds. I was
surprised, though I knew I must have done it pretty quickly.
After that I felt satisfied that I should win the Quarter Mile
too, which was nearly last. So I didn't enjoy the Sports a
bit while waiting ; I had been told the winner of the Quarter
Mile was an R.A.M.C. man who was supposed to be good. I
had a bad place at the outside, and as there was a corner
just after the start which I wanted to reach first or second
I thought I was out of it. However, I remained second half
the way round, and won fairly easily in 14f seconds the
best I have ever done it in. I could have won the Long
Jump too ; but as it came just before the Quarter Mile I
didn't go for it. Now came a great fix. I was going to leave
on Monday night, so as to be playing for the Battery on
Wednesday. Secondly, there was a dance on Tuesday for
which I had booked my whole programme. On the other
hand, I had been asked to stop one day more, so as to go in
for the 100 yds. and Half Mile, which they all told me I
would win. I didn't think so, as they are not my races, but
I particularly wanted to stop to see Captain Angelo and a
number of friends I had met, so I stopped on. On the
Tuesday I won the 100 yds. Race and also the Half Mile,
and when I had done I felt rather a beast for not letting
any one else win. I got six Cups altogether one for each
race and two large Challenge Cups which I keep for a year.'
' Nov. 12. It has taken a long time to tell you that I went
to Bombay and won four races. Our Goal-keeper is still
with fever in hospital, but I want to see them through the
Tournament and get them another Cup and Medal, then I
shall settle down to work. I feel as if I had had a month's
' I told you we stood three to two for the best man-at-
arms. Last Friday morning it was Sword versus Sword
mounted, and after a good fight I won. That made
us three-all, and I had Tent-Pegging and Jumping to do.
I didn't win the Tent-Pegging, and on Saturday my last
22 A MEMOIR OF EDWARD ANTHONY STEEL
chance came. I rode Nero of J.'s, but he is no good for
Riding-School Jumping, as he jumps too big, so I didn't
win that either, and this was the last event. Then a Com-
mittee Meeting was held in which they told me the state of
affairs and asked how we would like to fight it out. Well,
we couldn't come to any agreement, so I said I would leave
it to the Committee ; so after a bit I was informed we were
to fight it out at once, as it was the last day and the prizes
had to be given away. Bayonet dismounted, the lance
mounted. I of course had the lance ; now this was an
event he had won hi the first round, so that it either meant
showing the white flag or being beaten before the whole
crowd. Being the Final there was a great assembly. We
were going to do a galloping drive. There was a Gymnastic
Display and other show events to finish up with. This all
took place on the Middlesex Football Ground. We entered
the arena and it didn't last long, for I went for him
and knocked him out with three points running and so
was declared winner and consequently best man-at-arms.
Every one was very pleased, except of course a few ; but,
after all, it wasn't a fair test on paper.'
* Nov. 20. Miss Stephens' wedding to-day to Major
Conran. Major Cloete, Ramsden, and I drove her back. I
am sending you a photo this week, they put it in the Indian
Sporting Times. I go on December 8 to Bolarum for the
Practice Camp on the 22nd. Our new Colonel is to be
Col. Philpotts, who arrives about December 1. We haven't
had a Colonel now since March.'
Leave to England Military Tournament Sports at Aldershot
Presentation to King Range-finding Model Return to Secun-
derabad Autumn Manoeuvres Bombay Athletic Meeting Foot-
ball Accident Ordered Home King Edward vii. Hospital
Scotland Fit for General Service.
' Jan. 17. I am very down in my luck again ; one of my
best friends here, Cameron, who only just came out I.M.S.,
three months' service, has just gone to Somaliland ; it 's very
sickening seeing all one's friends go off on Active Service
and not getting a chance oneself.'
By February 12 the Inspections were over, but the
time passed furiously. The Burlesque, of which mention
has been made, came to an end on March 8, and wound up
with a dance at 12th Middlesex Lines, then Battery Sports
and a Football Match with the Middlesex in the
Secunderabad Tournament, followed by Lincoln Sports
on March 9 in which he won the Officers' Race, and he left
for Bombay and sailed in the Eubattino on April 15.
A retrospect of his life and occupation since his arrival in
India, 1901, might well have given him cause for satisfaction.
He had occupied his short leave in 1901 by a trip to Southern
India and thence to Kashmir ; returning to Trimulgherry,
he had coached his Battery Team at football and led
them into the Final for the Cup, and though beaten in
the Final at Madras, it was matter for congratulation that
his team had done so well. He had been commended at
the Manoeuvres in February 1902 for the handling of his
Section. On February 20 he had made his mark in the
Assault-at-Arms. During May, June, and July he was
in the thick of several social events, getting up minstrels,
24 A MEMOIR OF
a nigger troupe, a fancy-dress ball, and again in August
coaching up his team for the Football Tournament, which
this time he led to victory, winning the Cup on Sep-
tember 11. On October 27 he had carried all before
him at the Bombay Athletic Meeting, winning six prizes,
two of which were Challenge Cups, and later at the
Secunderabad Assault-at-Arms he was ' best man-at-arms.'
In short, he had been more than fairly successful in every-
thing he had undertaken, he had made many friends and
was under a C.O. for whom he entertained an affectionate
regard. In all his letters home telling of these events
(and he never missed a mail) there was no suspicion of
vainglory or boasting ; the one note throughout the
correspondence was the pleasure that he hoped this recital
would give to us at home, and especially to his brother and
sister ; but there is a note of sadness in his last letter home
in which he wrote : ' I am leaving this country without any
regret ; it has taught me a lot, I 'm twice what I was before,
but at great cost ; it is a snare and delusion.' This seems
inconsistent with the summary just made out and requires
He certainly had more than his share of bad luck in the
loss of his horses, his failure to pass his exam, in Hindu-
stani, and his anxiety as to his future, which crops up all
through the correspondence, but at that age these were
comparatively minor matters and might well have been
considered as dust in the balance compared with the amount
of work and play that his untiring energy had placed to his
The summer of 1903 passed quickly ; the Military Tourna-
ment was coming on at Olympia, and, fresh from his success
at Secunderabad, he entered for most of the events, but
here he found himself in better company the pick of
the British Services and though he worked his way up to
some of the semi-finals he did not win any event. Later
on he entered for the Aldershot Athletic Sports in August,
and here he was more successful with fencing and sabres,
but in his own speciality hurdles in which he had never
EDWARD ANTHONY STEEL 25
been beaten since his schooldays, he won his heat, but
was just beaten in the Final owing to want of condition.
In September 1903 Lt. Steel started on his return journey
' S.S. Orotava. We haven't had a bad time, though the
train journey was pretty bad. But having Macredy and
Newman * made all the difference. We had rather fun at
' Sept. 25. Arrived at Colombo. Have had a splendid
time. The Firmingers 2 met me and took me out to their
beautiful place. I have been with them since Monday
Lt. Steel arrived at Trimulgherry, October 1, after a long
and tedious journey. On October 20 he went to Bombay
to the Races and Sports. It will be remembered that he
had in the previous year come off with flying colours and
two Challenge Cups which he had either to give up or contest,
and though he did not expect to do so well he felt bound
to go. Considering the circumstances he did remarkably
well, but he may tell his own tale.
' Oct. 29. I have just arrived back from Bombay, and
though I didn't do as well as last year I am fairly satisfied.
I only won the Quarter and Half Mile and ought to have
won the Hurdles, but the Starter's pistol went off before
I had even got down, so I never even started, and I was
beaten in the 100 yds.'
During his stay in England in the summer of 1903 he
deposited in the War Office a working model of a range-
finder to which frequent reference is made in subsequent
correspondence. On his way out he wrote : ' I hope you
have been able to manage something about the description
1 These were two gentlemen, actors in a play called Potash and Perl-
mutter, which had a long run in New York and alao in London, and Mr.
Steel said it was the best play he had ever seen.
* Major Firminger, an officer serring under the Colonial Department,
at that time in charge of the Jail. Mrs. Firminger (nte Ravenshaw) was
26 A MEMOIR OF
of the two instruments waiting to be inspected.' It seems
that some further description was called for, and on October
15, 1903, he wrote : ' My inventions do not want any draw-
ings as I have had a model made instead.' However, it
seems that Major Headlam, D.S.O., required some further
drawing, and on November 19 Lt. Steel wrote : * I send
home a drawing as well ; I hope to have it out here by
February, as General Hepburn wants me to come and work
it at Bangalore for General Parsons to see.' In April 1904
he wrote : ' The instruments arrived safely, though the
War Office have not done anything about it beyond sending
their thanks : the new pattern instrument is apparently
to be exactly similar to mine. I use them out here, and
General Hepburn was very pleased with them and they
were most successful.'
' Nov. 15. I have had a very nice letter from General Hay
telling me my name is down for K.A.R. I want to know
if I ought to apply here through my C.O. at once. The
Battery should come any time from November next, and the
following February I wonder where I shall be then. We
go out for Manoeuvres on January 11. The Major is an
Umpire, so it 's splendid for J. and myself, we each have
a separate command.'
* Dec. 10. The Assault-at-Arms is over, but I had to
confine myself mostly to judging. What with having
just come back from Camp and having to use our own
horses I couldn't win anything. Both my Major and J.
are laid up for a few days. Ramsden is away and Dupres
has left to join the Staff College.
' We gave a very good dance last Wednesday. Xmas
here will come and go as if nothing had happened.'
' Dec. 24. I am working pretty hard now at Hindustani,
and have not been out anywhere for three weeks. J.
has gone out for a shoot, but the Major's wife is ill now,
so he can't go.'
EDWARD ANTHONY STEEL 27
'Jan. 1. I have been awfully busy this week some-
thing on every day. I have also The Girl from Kay's on
my hands. I wish I had seen it a few more times. Wasn't
it nice of Mr. Edwardes ? Any one else would have made
us pay 20 for it. We go out to Manoeuvres next Monday
at least I do with my section, all alone.'
' Jan. 28. I got back from Manoeuvres last Saturday,
having been out exactly a fortnight. You will be glad to
hear I have passed my Hindustani Exam., I heard about
it while I was away. The Barrs are leaving here for England,
April 2. Our General, Pretyman, goes to command the
' Feb. 4. I have, been out a good bit this week. I have
been amusing the parties with patter nonsense and comic
songs when it's too dark for tennis. . . . The regatta comes
off next week. I am rowing in the double sculls with
' Feb. 18. The regatta is over. We were beaten by a
The Football Tournament in March was the only serious
thing he had to look forward to, and now the blow came
that not only dashed all his hopes but threatened to end
his mortal career.
On March 10 he wrote : ' A busy week with the Foot-
ball Team. You will be glad to hear that " L" is left in
for the Final against Middlesex and I shall have to play
up for all I am worth.' In the match he got a kick on the
knee about twenty minutes after the start and a severe
blow on the thigh which nearly knocked him out, and
caused them to lose the match. It was no time for giving in.
J. and Ramsden were going off on leave, the Major's wife
was ill and going home, so he was practically alone. A
touch of fever laid him up, and in April he had to go on the
sick list, where he was kept for the first fortnight of April
having his knee blistered, and he returned to duty with his
28 A MEMOIR OF
knee somewhat improved but with his leg so stiff that he
could not bear it. Still, he struggled on, though, as he wrote,
having to ride with a straight leg. Fortunately it was his
right leg, so he did not require to use it for mounting.
There is something pathetic in the lonely figure struck
down at the moment of victory, indomitably struggling
to do his duty in the face of such odds. There are many,
no doubt, who regard football as a rough game and unfit
for decent folk, and would even say that it was all his own
fault. But there is much to be said, on the other hand, for
a young soldier who takes an interest in his men and can
influence them and set them an example as a leader ; it is
true that in a recently quoted letter he remarked, when
in lower spirits than usual, that he thought they were not
very grateful for all the trouble and expense he was going
to about it, but after all, who thinks of or expects gratitude ?
' Where are the nine ? ' is a question that has been re-
peated through the ages, and it is perhaps more apparent
than real, for I feel sure that no survivor of that team,
if such there be, could read this chapter without emotion.
He came off the sick list on April 21 ; however, by
the end of April he could carry on no longer, and had to
go to the Station Hospital, and after much consultation
the doctors came to the conclusion that the injury to his
thigh was beyond their ken.
At this stage Major Cloete, seeing the incapacity of those
in medical charge of him either to diagnose the injury or to
suggest any remedy, took the matter in his own hands
and insisted on Lt. Steel being sent home at once, and a
passage was taken for him on the Assaye on May 24 ;
but for the interest taken in his case by Major Cloete and
his opportune interference the result might have been
much more serious.
Leaving Bombay May 24 he arrived at Southampton
June 14 after a very pleasant voyage and with his leg feeling
very much better.
On his arrival he was taken to 9 Grosvenor Gardens
and placed under the care of Sister Agnes. And here let
EDWARD ANTHONY STEEL 29
me pay a humble tribute to this noble woman, the founder
of the King Edward vn. Hospital for Officers, who has
devoted her life and fortune to the care of the sick and
wounded of both Services, and for whom no honour that any
earthly power could bestow would be an adequate reward.
Here his injury, an enlargement of the thigh bone, was
seriously examined and watched by several of the most
distinguished surgeons in London, who were at that time
giving their aid gratuitously to Sister Agnes. 1 Several
examinations under X-rays were made to assist in the
diagnosis, but without any decision being arrived at. The
discussion, revealed later by Sister Agnes, took the form of
a suggestion to amputate his leg. This was fortunately
negatived by a decision of the majority, and he was advised
to go away into the country and take as much walking
exercise as he could without excessive fatigue.
Accordingly, he went to Scotland and stayed during
August with his cousin, Kenneth Angelo, who had a beautiful
place at Cullarchy, near Fort Augustus, where he had some
shooting and deer-stalking and met Sir W. Grantham,
Sir Forrest Fulton, and other interesting people. Perhaps
the only thing he ' missed ' was the absence of music.
On his return from Scotland he paid a visit to the Irwins
at Lynehow, and later to his uncle, Colonel Westmorland,
at Yanwath near Penrith.
At the end of August he was summoned to appear before
a Medical Board, and with this remarkable result, that his
examination disclosed no trace of the injury for which he had
barely escaped the surgeon's knife, and he was pronounced
sound in wind and limb.
Before leaving home in September 1903 he put his name
1 In the Memoirs of Edward, 8th Earl of Sandwich : ' During the Boer
War my friends Frances and Agnes Keyser turned their house in Grosvenor
Crescent into a hospital for sick and wounded officers, and invited me to
assist them in their work. Their success was complete. So devotedly
attached to her work was Agnes that she assumed the name of ' Sister
Agnes,' and later on founded the hospital called Edward vu. in Grosvenor
Gardens, in which, as Matron, she devoted her life, and which continues
to this day.'
30 A MEMOIR OF
down for service under the Colonial Department. The
reason for this has been foreshadowed in some of the
letters already quoted, and they may be conveniently
summarised. First, he had come to the conclusion that
his eyesight was not good enough for him to remain hi H.A.,
and, moreover, he was anxious to see service, and he felt
satisfied that he could not expect to do this if he remained,
as they were kept hi India principally for show work and
for exercising with other arms . Nearly all his contemporaries
had seen service, and he felt, as it were, out of it ; again,
the life he wished to lead in the H.A. was (he was beginning
to discover) more expensive than he could afford. He was
in no sense extravagant, had no expensive tastes or habits,
never played at cards for stakes, but the perpetual gaieties
of a large Indian station and H.A. is always at a large
station taking about his football team to play whenever
it became necessary if they were to distinguish themselves,
or even maintain the position that he had helped them to,
was expensive and might lead him into debt. He had
thought over and discussed various alternatives, as we have
Entry into the Staff Corps (for which he was qualifying
himself by studying for the exam, in Hindustani) and
the various openings resulting therefrom had all been
considered, but these occupations required permanent
service in India, and for this he could not make up his
mind so far to come to a decision. Service under the
Colonial Department, though it held out no such hope
of preferment or pension as permanent Indian service,
did not necessitate the severance of the link with home
and all it meant to him, and it was in this frame of mind
that he left home in September 1903. Knowing how proud
he was of his Battery, which he thought the best in India,
it is not difficult to understand the reluctance with which
he came to this conclusion, especially as the impression
prevailed at that time that they would return home on the
expiry of their term of service, i.e. any time between
November 1904 and the following February.
EDWARD ANTHONY STEEL 31
It will be seen later on that this hope was dashed to the
ground by an order that they were to remain in India,
but this was not then known, and his ambition was to return
home with the Battery before making the final plunge
which not only severed him from that arm of the Service
but possibly decided his future career ; and it was there-
fore after much consideration that he decided to sever his
connection with the Horse Artillery and applied to the
Colonial Department to be employed in Africa when a
convenient opportunity should arise. This opportunity
now presented itself, and he accepted the offer of service.
Seconded for Service under Colonial Office Departure for Nigeria
Staff Officer under Major Trenchard 1905, Trip to Lokoja Eket
Return to Calabar Cross River Further Expedition Leave to
THE Gazette seconding him for service under the Colonial
Office was dated October 21, but he had in the meantime
made preparations for his departure, and leaving Liverpool
on the 8th arrived at Calabar October 28 on the British and
African S. N. Co. s.s. Sokoto. ' The passengers,' he writes,
* are a very down-hearted lot, and talk of the East Coast in
bated breath, and are sure each tour is their last.' He had
intended ever since his return from India to publish a
' Primer ' for officers or others learning Hindustani ; he had
been struck with the inefficiency of existing books for that
purpose while himself trying to overcome the difficulties
of the language, and he had made voluminous notes
both in Hindustani and Persian with that object, and
thinking to work this up on the voyage to Calabar, but
unfortunately he could only find the Persian notebook
in his baggage, and the other with the Hindustani notes,
which he had left behind, was mislaid and never recovered
(see p. 37).
Lt. Steel's arrival at Calabar is thus chronicled by
' THE BARRACKS, CALABAR,
' November 1, 1904.
' DEAREST MOTHER AND FATHER, I arrived here last
Friday, the 28th, so the journey took us exactly 20 days.
It was horrid weather from Lagos to Forcados, Bonny, and
Calabar, very wet and misty ; but as soon as we got away
from the Niger Delta to the mouth of the Cross River it
A MEMOIR OF EDWARD ANTHONY STEEL 33
became tropical again. The approach to Calabar is very
pretty, it is some miles up the Cross River a fine big stream
and the steamers go right up. The country is densely
wooded on both sides and luxuriant with vegetation. As
to Calabar itself, I am charmed with it. Of course, there
aren't the festivities of an Indian station, because in the
first place the space is so limited, and there are no ladies,
except the hospital nurses, and of course no horse-flesh.
All the European community is on a good-sized hill with
plateau, and lovely and open. It is well laid out, with good
roads and drains and everything nice and green, and every
one is near each other, not like Secunderabad. I suppose
after a bit one is bored by the monotony of the life, if you
don't have any fighting to relieve it. But so far I 've been
too busy to think of anything. It is quite healthy if you
know how to take care of yourself, and no insect life hardly.
One of the Europeans in a " factory " (shop) here goes
home in the Aro with " Blackwater " to-morrow, but
I don't know how he got it. We are very short-handed
indeed. Mair, the O.C., R.A., is away on leave (home)
and Hamilton is C.R.A. now, and I 'm next. He goes off
this afternoon on a " Column." I have had some splendid
tennis here, and that 's all. It 's dark at 6 P.M., and
from 6 to 7 we meet in the different Messes for "drinks"
and " buck," and at 7 P.M. change for dinner at 7.30,
which is nice, as one can get to bed early. It is much
more civilised here than I thought, though of course the
Native is far behind the Native of India in every way.
A " Babu " clerk from India would be invaluable, and I
must say the soldier of India is a different class of article
altogether. At Bonny, I think I told you, we just missed
" Carlton," who had gone up the Niger Delta with a column
to punish some tribe. A telegram came yesterday to say
he 'd had a " fight," and amongst other casualties had lost a
white Sergeant, killed, which is rather a serious matter,
and he wanted another gun sent up, so Hamilton has had to
go off at a day's notice with his detachment and reinforce-
ments to him instead of going off next week with Major
34 A MEMOIR OF
Trenchard's column, which is going to have a big task. The
difficulty now is that there 's hardly any one left here,
except two guns and myself and Gibbon, R.A., and a
"depot" (Infantry) which I am to take over next week
as every one else is going with Major Trenchard (next
week). I have got a " hint " that I may have to go with
Major T. as Staff Officer to his column, if it is not cancelled,
and take a gun as well, which would be all right ; but it 's
not at all certain yet. In a day or two I shall know, and if
I go, it will be long before next mail day.
4 1 have been living rather Bush fashion. There are
no quarters for me and so I use all my camp kit. The
Mess here is rather scanty, and we have only two meals,
luncheon at 11 A.M. and dinner at 7.30 P.M., and at any other
time you can't get anything except drinks, so you have to
arrange for your own breakfast and tea.
' One column with Major Moorhouse (commanding) on
its way to " Asaba " (Niger River) is going to " Abushi "
and working right across to Akataka on the Cross River.
(This is quite an unknown part and they should have some
good fighting.) Carlton has gone with his company to Dega-
ma (Niger Delta), and is clearing the country between that
and Omoku to the north ; and Major Trenchard's column
goes to " Ikpa " on the Cross River (near here) and on to
" Aka," the centre of " Juju " worship, and then will work
up north and try and meet Major Moorhouse. This is a
terrible wild country, and forty miles from here cannibals
live in peace. I am very glad I brought a bicycle here.'
The surmise was correct, and he was appointed Staff
Officer to Major Trenchard, and on November 26 started
on the expedition foreshadowed in the foregoing letter.
' December 10, 1904.
' I have been lucky enough to drop into this billet as
Artillery Officer and Staff Officer to Major Trenchard
Commanding No. 2 Column, and we leave the day after
to-morrow and don't get back till April.'
EDWAED ANTHONY STEEL 36
CAMP 10 M. S.W. ITU, December 26, 1904.
' This morning I was off at 3 A.M. on a reconnaissance
with a column of my own and got back at 2 P.M. We all
move off to-morrow for a five-days' show without camping. I
got to within 3 m. of Aka this morning, which is our destina-
tion. We have only had one man killed so far and one
Sergeant wounded. I am very fit ; being Senior Subaltern
I get 3 Sections and a Mission. I think I ought to get
through, but of course in the Bush you never know who is
going to get it next.'
The operation known as the Ibibiokwa Patrol had for
its object the establishment of law and order in a district
not hitherto dealt with, and the surrender of arms, the
suppression of human sacrifice and illicit trade. Consider-
able opposition was met with during January and February,
but much useful work was done and a large portion of
hitherto unknown country mapped. The arrangements
were somewhat modified owing to the murder of Dr. Stewart
and subsequent general rising in the district where it
occurred. The force returned to Calabar in March 1903,
and arrangements were planned for completing the work in
the following season.
' CALABAB, March 9, 1906.
' . . . Back at Calabar safe and sound again. We
arrived on Tuesday last in the Jackdaw. No more column
news to what you heard in the last. We marched into
Ikotchpene from Ndiakata, left A. C. at Ikotchpene, sent
" G " Co. up to Bendi, and marched to Itu, where the Jackdaw
picked us up and brought us here. Calabar looked very
pretty. It 's a lovely spot really. I am out at the New
Barracks you remember the Colonel was telling you about ;
about a mile back from Calabar on high ground. Only
the white N.C.O.'s quarters are ready so far, which the
Officers occupy. All the Gunners are out here and Depot,
36 A MEMOIR OF
and we are entirely employed on clearing the ground
parade ground, cricket and tennis grounds, etc. There is
a small railway that brings everything here from Calabar ;
and they will be the finest Barracks in the world ; beautiful
native huts too, and polo ground. A best pony from N.
Nigeria costs 12 and you get 2s. 6d. a day for keeping him.
In India the same pony costs 700 Us., and you don't get
anything for keeping him and only Is. a day for your charger.
It will be a year before they are finished. I am directing
everything here for the Colonel, who comes out most days.
Mair, our Captain, is out, so I 'm no longer Captain, and
Vickery is out. He and Gibbon go off the day after to-
morrow on another expedition (or patrol rather) north of
Afikpo for two months. I forgot to tell you we had a white
Colour-Sergeant and two men wounded two days before we
left Ikatekpene. Mair lives at the Prison, which he is running
temporarily. ... I am very fit, and think it was the best
thing I ever did to come out here. . . .'
' CALABAB, March 21, 1905.
' . . . I am back in the old Barracks now, and go out to
the New Barracks twice a day, as on account of more N.C.O.'s
coming there wasn't room there. The Gunners H Co.
and Depot men are all out there and do fatigues, clearing
the bush, etc., and levelling. At present I 'm very busy
superintending the making of the terraces and gardens in
front of the Mess. The Mess is nearly finished and two
Bungalows and the N.C.O.'s quarters and soldiers' huts,
but we Officers shan't go out till there is room for us. It
will be very fine indeed. There have been a tremendous
lot of us here lately and dining in Mess. Last Saturday
we said " Good-bye " to another column for the Cross River,
where there is more trouble. Major Moorhouse's and
Capt. Horsley's column return next week, and so we shall
be full up again. Last Saturday we played cricket, the
Force against the World, to try and avenge a former defeat.
They made 145 and we had 2 hours to beat them and
EDWAKD ANTHONY STEEL 37
' Major Trenchard is very busy putting everything
straight. He runs this place, and I get on very well with him
and also the Colonel. . . .
' The Amalgamation scheme has been decided on between
S. Nigeria and Lagos, but no details. Our Artillery has
been cut down to one Battery of six B.L. guns instead
of two Batteries each of four guns, one Battery being
B.L. and the other R.M.L. The latter have been sent
to the Governor's house as ornaments and two more B.L.
guns ordered from home. At present it is not decided
whether the whole Battery will stop hi Calabar, or a section
at Lagos or Asaba. No one wants to go to Lagos, you
don't come out here to spend more than your pay.
' Captain Mair 1 arrived last mail. A very nice fellow.
I should like to get Jocelyn out here instead of sticking with
L. I see they come home for certain now this Christmas.
... I shall try and stop out here till next winter's " opera-
tions " and come home April next. If all goes well I may
come out for a second time. I shall look forward to coming
back to it again now more than before, now that prospects
' The only place I can locate that Hindustani book of
mine is with young Brandon. I wonder if he took it. I
suppose he is back in India now ' (see p. 32).
April 20, 1905.
' I am sorry I did not bring all my books, as I require
them to work up for my exam., for which the Colonel
wants me to go up at Lokoja, but it can't be helped.
' We are in the midst of the Rifle meeting fearful panic.
Even the billiard table is being slept on, there is such a
crowd. The next boat, however, sees a great clearance,
thank goodness, and when I come back from Lokoja it
will be peaceful again and one will be able to get some food
May 6, 1905. En route to Lokoja to pass his examina-
tion referred to in letter of April 20.
1 Now Colonel G. Mair, C.M.G., D.S.O., B.A., commanding the Nigeria
38 A MEMOIR OF
' It seems quite strange being on board ship and not
going home. I am getting off at Forcados to-morrow
and get into a river boat for Asaba and then to Lokoja.
It will be sad saying " Good-bye " to the others who are
going home in this boat (among them Trenchard and
Hamilton). However, it is a change after Calabar. The
Colonel and Horsley his adjutant are coming up with me
as far as Asaba inspecting. So we are quite a cheery
* ... is coming home on this boat. I don't suppose he 's
got a good word to say about any of his senior officers.
Major T. is only disliked by the worst as he makes them
work. I don't know what Calabar would do without him,
for he keeps everything up to the top standard ; on a
column after three months' overtime every one is inclined
to be irritable, but he 's the best we have got out here.
I only hope he comes back.
' We had a good week of festivities at Calabar and ended
up with a Smoker and Torch -light Tattoo. Two civilians,
Bed well and Orpen, won the lawn tennis. The boat is
beginning to roll horribly.'
He arrived at Lokoja May 6, passed his exam, on May 29,
and returned to Calabar.
' CALABAR, June 14, 1905.
' Quite a change after Lokoja this place, something
different every afternoon. I was disappointed with Lokoja.
I have been offered a political job in charge of the " Eket "
district. You see Eket on the map I sent you, and the
district goes up to Aka and is bounded by the Calabar and
Kwalbo Rivers. I have accepted it for a short time, as
there 's not much going on here, as it may do me good for
future events perhaps. It will be interesting visiting some
of the old places again Afaha, Offiong, and those other
places I have mentioned though I hope they won't bear
any ill-will against me. You remember we had to settle
a good bit of the country this year.'
EDWARD ANTHONY STEEL 39
' EKET, July 25, 1905.
' I have just heard the terribly sad news of Jocelyn's 1
death. I can hardly realise it. I don't know what to say
to poor Aunt Flo. I have had quite a good time the last
fortnight travelling about the District, but have no time
now to tell you all the episodes. It is very nice being free
as it were to do as one likes. I am off again to-morrow
down the Kwalbo River to the mouth, where there is a creek
that is supposed to run to the Calabar River inland, and I
am going to see how far I can get, as there is a great scheme
for opening up water communication that way with Eket or
' EKET, August 21, 1905.
' I return to Calabar this week, as my relief arrives the
day after to-morrow. I have had too much to do here,
or rather have done too much, for I needn't have done
anything but sit tight if I liked. I have now about ten
reports to write as a result of my labours.'
' CALABAB, September 9, 1905.
' I got back last week. I was not sorry to reach Calabar
again, I have had very hard work at Eket.'
' September 20, 1906.
' Trenchard and others arrived last boat. He is in great
form, and at last something is being done. He has asked
me to stay out here and come as his Staff Officer on the
next operations, which begin in November. He will be
in Supreme Command with four or five other columns
under him, so instead of leaving here next month when
my year 's up I am going to stay till April or May next,
supposing the doctors allow it, which is almost certain.'
' CROSS RIVEE, September 30, 1906.
' Came out here in the Jackdaw and remained for gun
1 Jocelyn Mellor (see p. 8) died June 7, 1905, after being severely
mauled by a wounded tiger. He had just been promoted Captain and
appointed to 113th Battery R.F.A. This was his last shikar trip pre-
paratory to his proceeding to his station.
40 A MEMOIR OF
practice till October 18. Only Mair and I with the Battery.
Vickery is doing Intelligence Officer.'
' AITKPO, CROSS RIVER,
' September 30, 1905.
* We have been here three days now, which have been
spent in clearing the grass hi places for targets, etc. We
took two days getting up hi the Jackdaw, putting up at Itu
for the first night, where you will remember we landed with
the expedition. After that the river gets very pretty,
being more open, and trees alongside instead of dense
mangrove. This place is 4| miles in from Endibo beach
and " up " the whole way. Afikpo station is right up on a
hill, with precipices on three sides which look over beautiful
green plains for miles, and perfect climate.'
' CAI^ABAR, November 2, 1905.
' All our arrangements stand at present and we start
off November 13 from here. We have just sent reinforce-
ments round to the Niger as the Kwali country is " up," and
three Officers have just been badly wounded there. It was
in Renter's telegram about ten days ago. The H.M.S.
Dwarf has been in, and we 've had a series of matches and
festivities for them.'
The next four months were passed with the column.
(Despatches twice and medal with two clasps.)
His letters during this period with the column were of
exceptional interest to his family and friends, but they
are similar hi detail to that described in the previous ex-
pedition and would seem like repetition to the general
reader ; they have been absorbed into the history of the
period and hi that way generally described, and as to the
part played in it by Lt. Steel, it will be sufficient to quote
the dictum of Major Trenchard, 1 who, writing in 1919, said :
1 Now Air-Marshal Sir Hugh Montague Trenchard, Bart., K.C.B.,
D.S.O., R.A.F., Chief of Air Staff. W.A.F.F. 1906-13, European War
1914-18, Commandant Central Flying School 1914-18.
EDWARD ANTHONY STEEL 41
' He was my Staff Officer and he was a great man and the
most energetic I have ever seen, I think, and he was really
the backbone of the expedition on which we were together.'
' Jan. 13. The Secretary of State has wired out to-day
all overdue officers are to come home at once, so I may
have to go at any time.'
' Jan. 22. I got the Colonel to let Trenchard have me for
an extra fortnight. We have not caught any of the
Calabar. On February 22 he wrote : ' I arrived here
two days ago with the remains of Dr. Stewart (see p. 35),
which we recovered, and one or two of the culprits. The
funeral took place yesterday with great ceremony.'
Return to England School of Musketry, Hythe Survey Course at
Southampton Return to Nigeria Life and Work at Lagos Black-
water Fever Return Home Lecture to Royal Geographical Society
Gazetted Captain Joins 68th Battery, R.F.A., Woolwich
Trawsfynnid Gravesend Lecture at Geographical Institute,
IN March 1906 Lt. Steel embarked on his return home in
s.s. Nigeria, and on arriving at Las Palmas encountered
H.M.S. Isis in which his elder brother was First Lieut. ; he
remained with him a week, went on to Madeira, where
he took the next boat home, arriving in the middle of
After a rest he set to work to prepare for his examination
as Major ; he also went through a course of Musketry at
Hythe, where he obtained a certificate in July, and also
a course of instruction in the *303 Maxim machine-gun, for
which he obtained a certificate.
In August 1906 he paid another visit to his uncle, Col.
Westmorland, at Yanwath, and with his cousin, Hilda W.
(now Mrs. C. T. Stockwell), attended the L.T. Tournament
at Carlisle, August 27-30.
In October and November he attended the topographical
course of instruction with the Ordnance Survey at
Southampton, where he obtained a certificate from Col.
On January 12, 1907, Lt. Steel started in the s.s. Aro from
Liverpool. He had three very bad days of seasickness,
and was unable to land at Madeira as he had hoped. Alto-
gether, the voyage was so monotonous that it left no impres-
sions worthy of record.
A MEMOIR OF EDWARD ANTHONY STEEL 43
' LAGOS, February 4, 1907.
' I was ordered off here on arrival at Lagos roads, and
shall be here till July, when I shall probably rejoin the
gunners at Calabar. I was rather pleased with Lagos on
first arrival, but ever since the first day I, in common with
the general community, have not felt fit a single day. It is
a most depressing place, being in a small low island, most
of it reclaimed and sinking gradually and surrounded by a
smelling lagoon. Having sunk such a lot of money into
it and built a railway from the mainland to Ibadan and so
on, I suppose the H.C. felt it had become the capital of the
new province. It is more like an Indian native town in
parts, and an enormous black population all on top of one
another. To make matters worse, there is no water supply,
and so all liquid refreshment has to be imported ; a good
water supply would cost millions. When you write to
John you might tell him that I have a friend, Max Ritter, on
the Isis whom he might keep an eye on, if he is worth it.
I have got here without breaking or missing a single thing,
rather good when you have to tranship into surf boats to
the branch boat at Lagos roads and then cross the bar. I
don't think there will be any football here. I don't even
feel keen on it. Whether it's the food or the climate, I 've
never been in such a comatose state in my life, though there
is more society here, and a grand Marina to walk along.*
February 14, 1907.
' We play polo twice a week and tennis the remainder.
The polo is a godsend, I don't know what we would do in a
climate like this without it. The railway people, who form
a colony just opposite this island, are giving a dance to-night,
to which I am going. There is a huge colony of nondescript
people, French, German, and Syrian traders and their
wives, mostly coloured. We have a rotten Mess here, not
a patch on Calabar. I have a room 10' x 15' along a corridor
where all boys have to pass to get to other rooms. If
Trenchard had been here such a house would never have
been put up, but every one else is too slack to worry.'
44 A MEMOIR OF
' FORCE MESS, LAGOS, S. NIGERIA,
' February 25, 1907.
' I am very busy, and the climate is sweltering. I haven't
really slept since I arrived. You lie surrounded by mos-
quito nets in a sort of pool of perspiration, until from sheer
weakness you slide into a state of lethargy and welcome the
dawn to get up and have a bath.
' There is a lot to be done here tennis-court to make
and get ready for the annual match at polo with Accra,
who come April 2 to play us. I shall be playing.'
' LAGOS, March 3, 1907.
' I am running the Mess, and the accounts and Mess
bills take some time, to say nothing of returns, etc. The
Colonel leaves the middle of this month, and I am getting
up the concert part for a farewell smoker and torch-light
tattoo he 's giving.'
'LAGOS, March 11, 1907.
' I hardly know which way to turn for work. I 've had to
get off for this mail two estimates for soda-water factories
one for Calabar and one for here. As nothing of this sort
has ever been done here before, and there has been no water,
it has been a big business, especially as all the water has
to be filtered and boiled. It is most depressing weather for
working, but plenty of exercise is the thing. On Saturday
we played the first football match ever played in Lagos
versus the Merchants, whom we beat rather easily. Need-
less to say, I had to arrange everything.'
LAGOS, March 18, 1907.
' Dr. Gordon White, who was on the first Ibibio expedi-
tion with Trenchard and me, died last week of malarial
meningitis ; he was a good fellow.
' The Colonel leaves us to-morrow, and I have had several
things to get settled up with him before he goes. Last
Saturday we gave a smoker and torch-light tattoo as a
farewell. The former took me all my time, and we had
EDWARD ANTHONY STEEL 45
electric light for all the stages and illuminations, and as I
did most of the performance as well, I 'm glad it 's over.
' I cabled last week for a " Consol " mineral-water machine,
and got Calabar " on duty " for three weeks to fix it up. I
shall get on to Trenc hard's boat here and go with him.
Rather nice ! I only hope I haven't forgotten all about
the machine and it fails ! The " Accra " people arrive
at end of the month, Guggisberg 1 included, to play us polo,
tennis, golf, and cricket ; so I shall just get back in time,
and as I am playing it 's rather exciting.'
' M arch 26, 1907.
* I have been unfortunate enough to get a smack on the
head with a polo stick, just above the eyebrow, and so I
am not writing much. I have had it sticked, and it will be
all right in a few days. In the meantime, while healing,
it 's somewhat painful. I go to Calabar this day fortnight,
and return after a week's stay there.'
' FORCB MESS, LAGOS, April 8, 1907.
' Since last week I have had the busiest time of my life ;
with the ' Intelligence ' Office, which I am running, and the
Mess and the new tennis-court and soda-water factory, I've
been well occupied, with the latter especially, and until
we get a new well fitted up with a pump cistern, and main
to our back yard, we can't cable for the new plant, towards
which we are collecting 200. I have been on the point
of cabling several times. Last Wednesday I thought it
settled as regards water, but the High Commissioner was
up at Ibadan for the races there, and as I was going to
Calabar to-day I thought I 'd better go up to see him, so I
got leave and on Thursday I left for Iba by rail. Saw H.C.
next day and the races, came down " special " Sunday,
yesterday, everything settled, rushed off to the Public
Works this morning before leaving for Calabar to see if
Pump palaver was all right, and found they hadn't got an
1 Lt.-Colonel F. G. Guggisberg, C.M.G., D.S.O., R.E., Governor and
Commander-in -Chief, Gold Coast.
46 A MEMOIR OF
elevator pump, only a " hand " one, and so we couldn't
pump up to a cistern and get the pressure. This will prob-
ably have to be specially indented for, and so waste two
months. I go out with all my boxes to the boat with
Trenchard, thinking the new machine is on board for
Calabar, find it is not, and so return here for another fort-
night until it does arrive.
' So now I am back in Lagos again, and can push on the
mineral-water factory here, and will go to Calabar for two
weeks next fortnight, and so I go on working. I have to
get everything for our tennis-court, too, from the P.W.D.,
which requires a lot of tact. I 'm pretty fit, but it is very
hot still, and no rest at night. Ibadan was ripping " air,"
but nothing to do.
' The Accra people have cried off the polo, much to our
disgust, and so there is no excitement to look forward to.'
' FOBCB MESS, LAGOS, April 15, 1907.
4 1 am very busy in the Mess making improvements, and
also making all equipment for starting heads and posts,
lemon-cutting, tent-pegging, etc.'
1 LAGOS, April 22, 1907.
' I have just come down from " Oshogbo," sixty-two miles
above Ibadan, where I went last Friday to the opening
ceremony of the new extension of the railway line, which is
eventually going to Kano in N. Nigeria. Major Maclear
and I went up to Ibadan, stopped at the Mess there the
night, went to Oshogbo the next day, where lunch was
served, and back to Ibadan for dinner. Terrible journey,
and I was very disappointed with the travelling and the
country, but if anything it 's thicker than round here. I
hoped it would be open.'
' LAGOS, April 29, 1907.
' I don't expect I shall go to Calabar yet awhile. There
is too much to be done here. We had the Annual Regatta
last Friday, and we entered a boat at the last minute in the
European Fours, and after a desperate race we got second
EDWARD ANTHONY STEEL 47
prize, 5. If we hadn't had an old sea-boat, odd oars, etc.,
we would have won. Saturday a smoking concert at the
club, at which I gave a few turns. The amount of work
here is terrible. Of course I needn't do it, but I do. I
shall probably go to Calabar next fortnight, as I hear the
Calabar machine is on the next boat. I only hope it 's
not beyond my power of doing.'
4 LAOOS, May 27, 1907.
' The Accra polo team arrived last Thursday. We
played them on Saturday three chukkers and got two goals
to their one, and were to have played the remaining three
chukkers this afternoon, but it rained incessantly all day,
so we can't, and are going to play 6 A.M. to-morrow morning
if possible, as they have to leave in the homeward mail
for Accra to-morrow at 9 A.M. Last Friday we had " Empire
Day" here, and sports for 7000 Lagos school children.
I had 2500 to look after, and we got through a programme
of about ten events.
' The Mess is like an hotel now with all these Accra
guests. It 's too much, and also an examination for pro-
motion ; fourteen here in a Mess for seven. Trenchard is up
from Calabar to play polo for us. I was going over to
Ebute Meta to tennis yesterday (Sunday) with Trenchard,
but couldn't, as a go of fever came on which kept me in bed.'
4 CALABAR, June 23, 1907.
* I had a rotten trip round. We had a rough passage
across the bar, on which we bumped three times, and were
then lifted off again luckily by a wave which continually
broke over the ship. When we reached the roads, there was
no mail steamer, and so we bobbed about in a cockle-shell
boat from 7 A.M. till 2 P.M., and I really thought I should
" bust." I think eventually I must have collapsed, for I
woke up and found the mail steamer had arrived. We lay
about 100 yards off, and this has to be done in surf boats.
You had to make a jump out into the surf boat at a suitable
moment, for it was bobbing up and down like a cork, some-
times above, sometimes below, the level of the branch boat
48 A MEMOIR OF
deck, and sometimes away from it. I was the first to get
in, and then alongside the mail steamer it was awful, and it
took five minutes to get the " Mammie-chair " let down into
the surf boat, which was doing about 20 feet vertical travel.
It rained the whole way to here, so altogether it wasn't
much of a health trip, and I got most of my clothes spoilt,
too, from sea-water getting in through the keyhole. I
think the machine will be a great success. I am only
waiting now for the P.W.D. to join up a couple of pipes and
I shall start. It is a great improvement, and I wonder
people haven't been poisoned by the old one. I hope to
get back to Lagos next Saturday to carry through the water
supply finally. But when everything was fixed, and they
were going to start putting up the windmill pump and tank
and main from the race-course well to our Mess, the day
before I started from here, and wanted to cable home for
the machine, the P.W.D. suddenly discovered they hadn't
got the piping to carry the water. They promised to cable
for it, but whether they have done so or not I cannot tell
yet. We played football yesterday v. the mail steamer
and beat them, and to-morrow we play H.M.S. Dwarf, which
has just arrived here.
' PS. I have managed to get off at last. I suddenly got
the machine to work, the new syrup arrangement and every-
thing, and so they let me go.
' I have had a busy week doing Battery Parades, and
every day till 6.30 in the factory. I got a cut finger from
a broken bottle, and this, I think, has produced a " Bubo " in
my throat, which makes it torture to swallow, and makes
it as bad as being seasick. So this trip won't have been
much pleasure. We want a bad transhipment at Lagos
to-morrow only to complete it.
' Mair is very sick at my being wanted in Lagos, and I
shall have to return for gun practice in six weeks up at
4 LAGOS, July 8, 1907.
' I arrived back here safely, though I had a terrible experi-
ence, for the branch boat, an old tub, was suddenly caught
EDWARD ANTHONY STEEL 49
up by a current and taken slap on the bar 4 P.M., just as we
were coming in, and there we had to stop with waves breaking
over till high water 10 P.M., when we got off and anchored.
About 150 passengers, no food, drink, etc., and two little
boats that probably have never been launched. I thought
she would break up. As a result of cold, etc., my sore
throat got worse. This place is under water all this period.
We walk straight out of the Mess into 6" of water all round.
Throat got ulcerated, and so couldn't eat or drink, and have
had to have it daily cauterised. Getting all right now.
Plenty of work, managed to raise 250 for M.W. factory,
and to have our own distiller. P.W.D. have forgotten to
estimate for piping, and there 's none in the country. I
shall be glad to cast off my various duties next Tuesday,
when I leave for Calabar Mess caterer, Mess president,
polo, football, etc., mineral-water factory, new tennis-
court, besides my work. I shall probably return here in a
fortnight, though, and be found some job, musketry or
something, as it will take two months to get our M.W.
concern going here. Moorhouse has got an extension, so
will return in November.'
'LAGOS, July 15, 1907.
' I have had a bad week with my throat, and it is worse
to-day than before, so I can't do anything much, and eating
is very painful. It's impossible to get well in this place,
and we are surrounded with water. Good thing the house
is built on piles. We haven't played a game now for two
months owing to the amount of water lying about.*
His last letter home complaining of a sore throat that he
could not get rid of was followed by a telegram from Major
Trenchard, dated August 30 :
' Son out of danger sailed 24th.'
A letter dated August 9, which arrived about the same
time, stated that he had been attacked with blackwater fever
when starting for Calabar, and for a time was in a critical
50 A MEMOIR OF
During the voyage home he recovered his health, and
was allowed a period of leave for convalescence, but even
had he wished it, he would not have been allowed to return
to S. Nigeria.
In March 1908 Lt. Steel read a paper before the Royal
Geographical Society on ' Exploration in Southern Nigeria '
under the presidency of Sir G. Taubman Goldie, in which
he described the proceedings of the several columns with
which he had been connected ; the general characteristics of
the country between the Niger and Cross Rivers, illustrated
with lantern slides from his own photographs ; the nature
of the soil ; and the customs and superstitions of the various
tribes with which he had come in contact. An interesting
discussion followed, in which Sir Ralph Moor, who had been
High Commissioner at the time, Messrs. Shelford, Cotton,
and Parkinson took part and bore witness to the accuracy
of Lt. Steel's observation, the lucidity of his description, and
the interest he had infused into a subject hitherto little
In April 1908 Lt. Steel was gazetted Captain and posted
to the 68th Battery R.F.A. at Woolwich. It may be noted
here that about this time considerable reductions were
being made in the Artillery : men who had enlisted for
long service and who wished to re-enlist were not allowed
to do so ; consequently the country was flooded with
discharged men for whom no employment could be found.
Societies were formed in many places to remedy this
grievance, but it was difficult to cope with, and great distress
was caused ; and to the surprise of those who knew the facts,
Ministers endeavoured to explain in Parliament that there
had been no reduction. The records of the Soldiers' and
Sailors' Help Society afford ample corroboration of this.
Through the kindlness of Lady Tritton x I have obtained
1 Lady Tritton, wife of Sir Seymour Tritton, K.B.E., who has devoted
years of her life to promoting the welfare of soldiers and sailors.
the following figures as to the number of cases dealt with
by this Society as follows :
1907 . . . . 16888
1908 .... 19297
1909 .... 17951
The figures are vouched for by Major Tudor Craig
The Battery to which Captain Steel was posted was
used principally as a training Battery for the short-service
men who were being enlisted to fill the places of those who
had been discharged under the aforesaid regulations, and
it was in this way, and also on account of our connection
with the above-mentioned Society, that we became cognisant
of these facts.
The Major was on leave and Captain Steel settled himself
in the Major's quarters. The wave of economy, of which
mention has been made, had swept over the barracks at
Woolwich, and they were in a condition of neglect and
In June he was occupied in correcting Survey Papers
for prizes, and in July he took the Battery to a training
camp at Trawsfynnid 1 in North Wales, and in August to
Gravesend for field training. In September he took a
short leave, and in October he was invited to lecture at the
Geographical Institute at Newcastle, where he met with a
great reception, and later went up for an examination to
the Ordnance College, Woolwich, which he passed, and was
directed to join on January 1, 1909.
Writing about this time, December 1908 : ' My time
is scarcely my own just now ; last night we had our winter
ball, which takes up a good lot of every one's time. Sketches
and Reconnaissance Lectures every afternoon and the
Franco -German War with weekly discussions : then arrang-
ing teams and ground for a match we played this afternoon
1 Letters from the camp at Trawsfynnid have not been preserved ; an
excellent description of it is given by Major A. Hamilton Gibbs in his
recent work, The Grey Wave, p. 80.
52 A MEMOIR OF EDWARD ANTHONY STEEL
v. London United Banks whom we beat 4 0, training for
the Army Cup. We play the 2nd Grenadier Guards in the
second round at Walthamstow on December 26. My leg
is perfectly all right, thanks to the rest.'
He was also busy with a Christmas treat at the Shrapnel
Barracks to the women and children of the Battery hi
collaboration with the wife of the Major, who had recently
returned from leave. The entertainment was a great
success owing to the exertions of Mrs. Short, assisted by
Miss Da vies ; Captain Steel ; Q.M.S. Mann ; Sergeant
Sutton, R.A. ; Sergeant Myhill, R.E. ; and Sergeant
Stringer, R.A.M.C. On January 1 following he joined the
wg -J i
|^ d< g
^ w .6
o u s .-
? fc ;S|l
5 =< U 3
Q SP^": .
(^ S ..p .
Joins Ordnance College Lecture at United Service Institution
Brother's Marriage Aviation Meeting, Doncaster Rejoins 68th
Battery Course of Economics, Clare Market Certificate Transfer
to 17th Battery, Hilsea Survey Course, Southampton.
DUBING the session at the Ordnance College (February 4)
he gave a lecture at the United Service Institution, White-
hall, under the presidency of Col. V. G. Kemball, C.B.,
D.S.O., on ' Exploration in Southern Nigeria ' ; and in due
course obtained the certificate of having passed the Ordnance
A photograph of the officers comprising this, the Twelfth
Ordnance Course, is here given, with their names inscribed
Captain Steel commenced work at the College on January
4, 1909. He was recommended for ' ' certificate and
A.O.D. at the conclusion of the course.
During this time the 68th Battery moved to Aldershot.
On July 29 Capt. Steel was best man to his elder brother,
Lt. John Miles Steel, R.N., on his marriage with Laura
Kathless, twin daughter of the late W. Sinclair-Thomson,
M.D., and Mrs. Sinclair-Thomson of Heathcroft, Black-
water, Hants, at St. Andrew's, Wells St., London.
It would appear from his correspondence that he turned
his attention to the feasibility of establishing a corps of
aviation in the British Army.
It will be remembered that the practical aspect of
aviation was still in an experimental stage, and the first
important gathering was convened at Doncaster, I think
originally by Captain Windham, a retired officer of the Navy,
and it was remarkable at the time for two reasons first,
56 A MEMOIR OF
credit and obtained a certificate to that effect and rejoined
his Battery. Early in the year 1911 he was offered an
appointment in the New Zealand Service, and he was much
inclined to accept it, but at the last moment he was persuaded
not to go for various reasons, and another officer was found
who was willing to do so.
June. Another question to which Capt. Steel had been
giving some attention was that of the necessity for pro-
viding some sort of observation platform for use in the
field. The following letter from the Director of Artillery
shows the result of these deliberations, and one cannot
help being reminded of the attitude at headquarters generally
towards all original proposals emanating from young
officers, and also the fact that at one time there was a dis-
position to belittle the use of artillery and of engineers in
war, and indeed to preach the doctrine that in future wars
neither arm would be of so much use as their respective
advocates contemplated. It would be interesting to com-
pare some opinions held fifteen or twenty years ago at the
War Office with the experience of this recent war.
Extract from enclosure, Q8th Battery, R.F.A.,
Capt. E. A. Steel, E.F.A.
' 54/ABTILLEEY/4519 (A.2),
' W.O., LONDON, June 17, 1911.
' With reference to previous correspondence on the subject
of observation platforms for use in the field I am informed
that the Officers named in the margin may be thanked for
the trouble they have taken. It is not proposed to take any
further action with regard to their proposals.
' (Sgd.) C. G. HENSHAW,
* Colonel for Director of Artillery.
' To G. O. C.-in-C., Aldershot.'
In July 1911 he was transferred to the 17th Battery at
EDWARD ANTHONY STEEL 67
Hilsea, and in August attended the Survey Course at
Southampton to fit himself for a post on the Boundary
Commission then in prospect, and he remained there until
the conclusion of the course, when he was warned that his
services might be required for Boundary work.
Offered Appointment to Anglo-Belgian Boundary Commission
Sails, January 1912 Work in Rhodesia Leave, November
Appointed Chief Commissioner Work on Boundary.
THE boundary between Northern Rhodesia and Southern
Congo was defined as the Zambezi-Congo watershed by
the Treaty of 1885 ; while the western boundary between
Rhodesia and Portuguese Angola was defined by the Anglo -
Portuguese Convention of 1891, which was later modified
by the King of Italy's award of 1905.
The Anglo-Belgian Commission for the survey of the
Rhodesia -Congo border reached Ndola on September 2,
1911. The British Commissioners were originally Major
R. A. Gillam, R.E., in command ; Capt. Everest, Welsh
Regiment ; Capt. R. Walker, R.E. ; Lt. S. Gore-Browne,
R.FA. ; and Lt. 0. E. Wynne, R.E. The Belgian Com-
missioners were Major Begraud, in command until April
1912 ; Capt. Weber, in command from that date ; and
Lts. Le Poivre, Gendarme, van Bleyenberg, Windart,
Dormer, and Ermens.
On October 16 Capt. Everest was killed by a lion, and
Capt. Steel was sent out to replace him, arriving early hi
In November 1911, on the information reaching home of
Capt. Everest's death, Capt. Steel had been warned through
the officer commanding his Battery at Hilsea that his em-
ployment with the Anglo -Belgian Boundary Commission
had been approved subject to medical report on him, and
this having been obtained, he made preparations for his
departure, and sailed in the Armadale Castle, January 4,
1912. The first part of his journey was stormy, and he was
unable to land at Madeira, and passengers for there were
MEMBERS OF THE ENGLISH COMMISSION.
MEMBERS OF THE BELGIAN COMMISSION.
landed with difficulty. Farther south the weather improved,
and the last ten days were occupied with sports, tourna-
ments, fancy dress dances, and concerts, etc.
He writes : ' I met some very nice people on board the
Macfarlanes among others, going out to see their gunner boy
at Pretoria. I have been at a table with Sir Starr Jameson ;
Sir Charles Metcalfe, the great South African explorer ; and
Mr. and Mrs. Willie James, who are going on a pleasure trip.
Mrs. Macfarlane has just made a sketch of me for your
benefit. There are a good many Belgians on board going
up to Katanga. I will try and stay a few days at Living-
From Livingstone he writes : ' After a long tram journey
I was glad to have a rest. This place is like Calabar, always
damp from the spray of the Zambezi Falls 7 miles away.
We had a fine view arriving over the bridge. I am staying
the night with the Basuto Police Mess, and leave to-morrow
for Bwana Mkubwa to join Major Gillam.
' Bwana Mkubwa is one of the largest copper mines hi
Rhodesia, and was worked extensively by the Arabs, the
deposit being of the same nature as at Katanga. The
present workings have attained a depth of over 400 feet,
and yet the true sulphide zone has not been met with, the
ore being still all malachite or carbonate of copper. Seven
miles north-west is the Government station of Ndola, where
the R.M. 1 has his headquarters.
' I have been here three days conferring with Gore -Browne
on the triangulation scheme before he goes on six weeks'
leave. When he returns we will have to go westward, while
Major G. administers from Headquarters, and is much
occupied with correspondence and arranging about food
' BWANA MKUBWA, February 6, 1912.
' I shall have to carry on alone westwards until Gore-
Browne returns. I go to-morrow morning to join the
1 Resident Magistrate.
60 A MEMOIR OF
Base Camp at Kafulafuta, 28 miles S.E. by S. Walker has
been to see me here. He and Wynne leave shortly to go
north. This is quite the poorest country I have ever seen.
No food and no inhabitants.
' I walked round the mine the first day, and went to see
the manager, Mr. Cockburn, who has a brother in the R.G.A.
(studying Japanese). I have been there several times since.
He is leaving the day after to-morrow. The only work
going on is pumping ; they are marking time to see how
the Tanganyika Concessions are faring in Katanga with
their ore before doing anything here.'
KAVALLO, BELGIAN CONGO,
' February 12, 1912.
' Walker and Wynne depart to-morrow, and we become
two separate Commissions. We have just come over here
for a reception to the Belgian Commissioners, and to-morrow
I go off observing.'
' KAFULAFUTA CAMP, February 20, 1912.
' It has rained for five days, and so I returned here with
little results. I am busy taking in all the technical details,
and getting the hang of the work done so far.'
1 February 26, 1912.
' I am at a place called Lunga, a mountain about 5 miles
E. of railway and 40 miles S. of Bwana Mkubwa. It is one
of our Trig, points. It has taken me some days to make
the place possible for a theodolite, and I am going to start
' March 6, 1912.
' I left Kafulafuta ten days ago visiting and observing
from Trig, points, which all required several days' work to
make them fit to observe from, and I am gradually on my
way back to Bwana Mkubwa for a few days, I hope, with
all the data for the triangulation up to the Lini.'
' March 28, 1912.
' I have got back after a useless trek down to the Kafue
and through to here again, 70 miles, in the search for
CAPT. E. A. STEEL.
Facing /. 6<x
EDWARD ANTHONY STEEL 61
hills, but it is quite the most hopeless country I have ever
seen, you can see nothing. We have come to the end of
hills here for a bit, and from Kaloko Hill just here, our
farthest point, you can see nothing but a vast expanse of
monotonous tree-tops for 50 miles or so. G. B. has returned
from leave, and has gone off to-day to Sabwe, in Belgian
territory, to see if he can see anything from there ; on the
strength of his report I shall have to decide what to do.
' I had to come back here to get the plane-tablers ready
with the points for the men up to the rail line, and then I
shall go off along the frontier, and we shall have to erect
Eiffel Towers in the forest. I wrote to the Belgians the
other day to get them to come here and help us hi this next
bit. They are coming, I am glad to say.'
' SAKANIA, April 26, 1912.
' I got a wire from Major Gillam saying he was coming
up to see me for the day. The train arrived here 6 A.M., so
after meeting him and bringing him to my camp here and
having breakfast, wash, etc., we started off to walk out
to the " tree " station I am building 3 miles out. On our
return we had lunch, and then he had to catch the mail
' On the Thursday before we both arrived down by the
same train, he from Tshinsenda and I from Mokambo. We
had been building an enormous signal, 30 feet high, but
owing to the carriers climbing to the top before we had
braced it up properly, it buckled up. However, I left an
N.C.O. to finish it, and came here to begin this " piece "
of the show at a spot I had noted on one of my previous
journeys. Our difficulties lie in the fact that from
" Kaloko," a large hill at Bwana Mkubwa, one can see
nothing but tree -tops ; and the key to the situation lies in
the possibility of connecting up Kaloko with Mokambo for
a start 60 miles. I have now been here more than a fort-
night twelve days' actual work, and at least another week,
what with clearing and putting on a top to the station.
The platform is 45 feet high, built in a large fork of a tree,
62 A MEMOIR OF
one of the three arms of which I propose using to fix the
theodolite on. The rains are over, and there is a short
period of heat. Every one has been ill : Gore-Browne
carried into Ndola hi a hammock with bad fever ; Le
Poivre, one of the Belgian Commission, ill with fever for a
fortnight now. In fact, I am the only one who has done
any work at all the last three weeks. " Begraud," the
Major of the Belgian Commission, has been recalled, so that
they have been at a standstill for a month. However,
Le Poivre came in this morning to borrow my map to copy,
so perhaps they 're going to make a start soon. Expensive
place Sakania. Sometimes an enterprising hotel proprietor
gets up a cow and kills and charges 3 francs 50 for a pound
of meat ; and so on. A bottle of beer, value 4d., cannot
be had under 2 francs 50. I have not been over fit myself,
partly from doing too much and also as we cannot get any
fresh food. I can't even get a fowl, simply because they 're
not in the country.'
' May 2, 1912.
' Major Gillam left me here to-day for Tshinsenda to start
our new headquarters, and I shall be very thankful when I
have settled the triangulation that far. After another week
of work and clearing I may say I 've finished here, and then
go to find another point to join up Tshinsenda with Kaloko
at Bwana Mkubwa. I leave here 8 A.M. with all the
carriers and get back about 6 P.M. We are at present cut-
ting through a whole ridge of forest to see another point.'
' SAKANIA, May 30, 1912.
'As you see, I am still rather defeated by this area of
80 miles, and am now building another beacon about 8|
miles out 17 miles a day, as well as a few hours' work
there, is enough. There is no decent water there.'
' NDOLA, June 6, 1912.
' I went off to Bwana Mkubwa by a goods train to do some
observing from " Kaloko," but after two days of waiting
from sunrise to sunset it was practically impossible to see
anything so Gore-Browne is going off with a helio and it
EDWARD ANTHONY STEEL 63
will be slow work, as one of us will have to work the helio
for the other from practically every point. I went up to
Ndola to call on the new magistrate there and stayed the
night, getting on at the siding there at 4 A.M. for here.
These Thursdays and Sundays are always busy days here,
the train running from the south 6 A.M., also the one from
Elizabeth ville at the same time ; the south tram proceeds
north 9 A.M.
' There is very little progress to report. An N.C.O.
arrived in this morning, with news of having seen nothing
from the trees on the route I sent him, although practically
surrounded by beacons.'
' SAKANIA, July 3.
' I have just arrived back here after a detour visiting
Bwana Mkubwa again, which seemed rather a retrograde
move. We are encountering another difficulty now
grass -fire, and the whole country under a kind of London
fog : 10 miles is about the limit of vision. On the train
here I found the Co. Mine Manager of Bwana Mkubwa
going up to Elizabeth ville and had to give him breakfast,
and then had to see Cpl. Wilde, R.E., who had returned
here the night previous. I had sent him out to report on
a certain big tree about 10 miles off that I had more or less
fixed, but the first carrier he sent up on rather a rotten
rope which broke with him about 50 feet up and he was
killed, so they came back having done nothing, and I find
a state of mutiny here. I'll have to go myself now, and
have sent the Corporal off to Kafue on a tree-cutting job.'
July 17, 1912.
' Last week I was building another tree station 9 miles
from Sakania, and then the N.C.O. down here rushed up
to me one day to say he didn't know what to do, so I came
down here. It 's a very pretty place this the only one
I Ve seen as the Kafue runs through high cliffs, and my
tent overlooks it. It 's just like the Rhine but the tsetse
flies are bad. I 'm very fit and hope to shoot some meat
here. I 'm going to look on this week as my seaside holiday.
64 A MEMOIR OF
I fancy every one at home is doing the same. I have a
canoe made and am having it " tarred," and in the evenings
shall do some paddling and sketching on the river. If it
wasn't for hippos and crocodiles it would be grand, but
the natives won't go near it. I 'm sending this in 20 miles
to the Belgian station of Mokambo to catch the mail.'
' SAKANIA, July 24, 1912.
' I came up here from the Lufua, the name for the Upper
Kafue, last Sunday, and return to-morrow. I 've had
a lot of carriers to pay off and a lot of writing, etc. We
found another small hill in the forest, and on it are building
the biggest tower we have built so far. I have left an
N.C.O. to go on with it. If we can see over the intervening
ridge from the top we shall have done the trick, but even
then, when you only get three days a month when you can
see over 20 miles, you never know how you will be kept
observing. I have made a very nice camp on the Kafue
where it runs between high hills, and could have a very
pleasant time there if there was no trouble with the triangula-
tion. I was hoping to hear last mail of J.'s l promotion.
I have not even had time to take more than a dozen photos.
I shall be very glad to get to Tshinsenda. Then I hope
not much more than a week there will suffice for the calcula-
tions, and I shall push out and make a camp at Makolo
(Baya), one station from Elizabeth ville, and from there
work right across the Upper Kafue.'
' September 5, 1912.
' Gillam was staying with me last week at my camp here
near Kilometre 55 on the railway, the only place with some
water near, where I am building another huge beacon at
Kilometre 49, seeing something of the difficulties and nature
of the work.
' He 's not very fit, I 'm afraid. We have just heard
the Colonial Office are paying our passages home, and I
shall leave with Gillam, December 4, from Cape Town
1 His brother, promoted Commander June 30, 1912.
THE UPPER KAFUK RIVER.
Facing f. 64.
EDWARD ANTHONY STEEL 66
' November 26, 1912.
' A place called " Songe," a mountain about 5 miles
east of the railway and 40 miles south of Bwana Mkubwa,
one of our tree points which it has taken me some days to
make possible for a theodolite . I am going to start observing
It will have been gathered from the narrative, so far in
rather unnecessary detail, that the difficulties hitherto
encountered related entirely to the question of observation.
The portion of country traversed from Bwana Mkubwa
to Tshinsenda had been a most trying piece of work to
tackle, and members of both sections of the Commission
were tired out when work ceased in December.
' How sick one was ' (writes Captain Steel) ' of the mono-
tonous gently undulating forest with ridge after ridge of
the same height and never a view obtainable except by
climbing the highest tree after much preparation and forest
An occasional grass - fire was another difficulty, but
although the country was sparsely populated they had not
experienced much difficulty about getting carriers, and as
his camps at Sakania, Tshinsenda, and Makolo (Baya) were
all near the railway their food and communications had not
given them any serious trouble.
' By March 1912 the triangulation had reached the railway,
and difficulties now began in earnest. The next 60 miles
of country were to take us longer than the last 150 miles,
owing to the absence of any hills, and we had to build a
series of six beacons in order to get through this forest area
to Tshinsenda. All these beacons were 50 to 70 feet in
height, whilst an immense amount of clearing had to be
done to establish intervisibility all round. The work of
the Commission was much hampered during the next hot
weather months by the haze that pervades the whole
country until the rains break again, which is sometimes in
September ; but in this particular year there was no rain
till December. Even with the aid of a heliograph, which
66 A MEMOIR OF
we always had to use, it was impossible for days on end to
see more than 10 miles. Another source of trouble was
bush-fires, the natives setting fire to the grass for the purpose
of concentrating the game close to the large rivers. The
scarcity of water is also a difficulty, but only on the Bhodesian
side, for as one proceeds along the watershed, from the
railway crossing to the 24th meridian, the rise to the water-
shed from the Congo side is abrupt, and the whole country
appears before one like a panorama, whilst on the Rhodesian
side nothing can be seen farther than the next ridge of tree-
tops only a few miles away. During these hot weather
months it was a great relief when work took us down to the
Kafue River, the southern limit of our work in this region,
for here along the banks of this beautiful stream, untouched
as yet by the hand of man, one sees Nature at its best.
* At Tshinsenda a base was measured by the Belgian
Commission along a straight stretch of the railway line,
with a prolongation into the forest to obtain the necessary
' On the journey down we met Sir J. Hewett, who travelled
down with us from the Victoria Falls to Maf eking. He had
been up paying a visit. We had some " bridge " in the
train, in which a travelling missionary joined to make up
the " four." I remember Sir John saying good-bye to me
one early morning in Mafeking station while I was hanging
out of the window in my pyjamas.'
During the recess, as Major Gillam was advised not to
return, the Colonial Office decided to appoint Capt. Steel
with rank of Major to be Chief Commissioner of the Com-
mission delimiting the frontier between N. Rhodesia and
the Belgian Congo, and Lt. E. M. Sealy, R.E., was appointed
Assistant Commissioner. They both started for Cape Town
' R.M .8. Balmoral Castle, April 4, 1913.
' To-morrow we reach Cape Town, and very glad I shall be.
We had a very nasty trip to Madeira and I as usual dis-
EDWARD ANTHONY STEEL 67
appeared, though it wasn't till after dinner on the Saturday
night this time ! It was very cold, and then for a few days
after Madeira I have been hors de combat ; however we then
had it pretty hot and I 'm feeling quite myself again. It 's
been a rotten voyage. Every one either married or invalid.
* I shall stay four days in Cape Town arranging matters
connected with the Commission and then proceed to Living-
stone, where I shall stay another three days, and then to
Before the recess it will be remembered he had made a
camp at Makolo (Baya), one station from Elizabethville,
on the Katanga Railway : to this camp he returned April
' I have now been here one week, though it has seemed
like a couple of days, and we are getting into shape.
' There is a fearful amount to do. I don't think we
have forgotten anything, and everything is going smooth.'
The question of supplies, it has already been observed, had
not hitherto presented much difficulty. The line of water-
shed was sufficiently near the railway as far as Baya to
make it useful for their purpose. From this point on to
Kansanshi and thence to Munyafunshi, and again from
Munyafunshi, the railway and boundary line diverged and
the former was no longer of assistance to them . How the
difficulties were overcome is thus explained by Major
* The question of transport was the most serious one
that presented itself on resuming work at the beginning
of April 1913. The problem was this how to maintain
eight white men and four hundred black men in a practically
uninhabited and foodless country for fifteen months, the
farthest point of which was 350 miles or a twenty-eight
days' journey from our rail-head at Baya. As a native
can only carry a total load of twenty-eight daily rations,
it follows that he cannot be sent farther than a fourteen
days' journey, in which case he will have consumed all
68 A MEMOIR OF
the flour he started with, as he requires the remaining
fourteen rations to feed himself coming back. As the
first half of this country was tsetse fly area, any form of
animal transport was also out of the question. There
remained but one solution, the use of traction engines,
which were fortunately found available at Kansanshi Mine.
A traction road existed from here to Baya, as this is the
normal route by which supplies arrive and copper is ex-
ported. The next difficulty was that as one proceeds
west along the watershed the hard red soil disappears
and the surface consists of a layer of soft sand, over which
traction engines cannot go. Fortunately on the watershed
we leave the fly area at some 160 miles from Baya. A
suitable place was found here for our big base camp on
the headwaters of the Munyafunshi River, an affluent of
the Lualaba. Here the traction engines could arrive,
and it would be possible from this point onwards to use
ox transport. With the help of the Anglo -Portuguese
Boundary Commission, who were starting work on the
24th meridian, a road was made through the forest to
this point, and by September our total requirements for
fifteen months had been transported from Baya, some
twenty thousand loads, before the first rains began and
rendered traction transport useless.
' With ox transport in view for the second half of our
work, two bullock waggons had also been transported
from Bulawayo to Munyafunshi with the necessary harness.
Some years ago, when the railway from Lobito Bay to
Katanga looked like arriving soon, an Englishman, Mr.
Owen, had driven up a herd of cattle from Barotse Land,
and taken up a farm on the Lunga River near Sakabinda,
having in view the demand that would arise for cattle. For
some five years he had lived a lonely existence the only
white farmer in the district. This man now came to our
assistance, and the oxen were quickly trained for draught,
though not without some anxiety, as an untrained team of
twenty-four oxen can tie themselves into some knots in
an African forest. Altogether seven food depots were
EDWARD ANTHONY STEEL 69
formed along the watershed, and so well had everything
gone that when work ceased on the 24th meridian the
following May only half a dozen loads of meal remained
at the Mwinilunga depot.'
' BAYA, May 13, 1913.
' Everybody is out at work, and we 've made good use of
the month of clear weather after the rains for observing.
I am off to Elizabeth ville to-morrow for four days on
official visits to Governor and Belgian Commission.'
There was no mail bag made up for Baya, so he had to
give his address as below and arrange to get his mail by
' BAYA, POSTE SAKANIA, June 4, 1913.
* We are gradually getting a move on. A traction
engine and three waggons went off to start our Depot at
Kansanshi, and now I 'm only concerned with being able
to get the meal I 've ordered in various parts of Africa
up in time for the next. The mines are beginning to do
some work and are just getting a new smelting outfit,
which will require all their engines for some time. All
my staff are working well.
' Weber and Ermens come down to-morrow from E'ville,
and I 've been busy with Sealy getting all the calculations
ready. We have to fix our positions of all the boundary
posts between here and Bwana Mkubwa.'
' BAYA, SAKANIA, June 10, 1913.
' Sealy left for Johannesburg to see an ear specialist
and I don't know when he '11 come back. G. B. is on ahead
doing good work, but the Administration have again failed
me with food ; so I may not be able to fill the traction
train I managed to get for next week to Kansanshi.'
' BAYA, POSTE SAKANIA, CONOO via CAPE TOWN,
June 16, 1913.
' Bremner the Escort Officer goes off to-morrow to the
Munyafunshi River to make a camp. My next headquarters
is Traction Head, so that limits us. It 's out of " fly "
70 A MEMOIR OF
country I 'm told, so Mr. Owen can come with his oxen
and take it farther on. At least, I 've told Bremner to
collect his oxen and put them on to pulling trees to train
them. Then I '11 order some waggons. I hear from
Kansanshi there 's no chance of his getting his surety of
250 there, but if I can get hold of his oxen, I '11 probably
risk buying the waggons. . . .'
The Commissioner was endeavouring to get Mr. Owen to
furnish some security.
' BAYA, POSTE SAKANIA, June 23, 1913.
' Things are looking better. Friend Owen has found
some one to back him for 250, so I 've ordered the waggons
from Livingstone. Sealy has arrived and leaves in two
days for the front. Gore -Browne reports plenty of hills,
and the traction engines are working and meal is arriving
from the south. Weber arrived here suddenly to meet
Windart, a mapper of theirs, who is beginning round here
and has spent all to-day copying all our maps, angles,
everything that has taken us the last two months to do ! '
' BAYA, POSTE SAKANIA, July 1, 1913.
' The last two days have been spent in loading up the
three trucks of each of the two traction trains that suddenly
came in for us. Our new camp on the Munyafunshi Railway
is reported by Bremner and G. B. to be a great success.
G. B. has finished a triangulation as far as that. Sealy is
observing round Kansanshi, I hope to join him as soon as I
can get the account for June quarter in and all the meal for
the next twelve months and the two N.C.O.'s who are
behind. . . . Other gangs are making a road for the traction
engine to our camp on Munyafunshi, or making a road for
Mr. Owen to bring his cattle and our waggons along from
that camp to the 24th meridian.'
' August 18, 1913.
* I have finally decided to leave here September 1, when
some carriers will arrive, and all the remainder of the camp
will go on to one of the waggons of the traction engines
after the nature of a travelling circus as far as Kansanshi.
EDWARD ANTHONY STEEL 71
After that we travel light. I shall have to stay a day or
two there and then set out for Munyafunshi : doing some
observing at one or two hills en route. I am just waiting
to hear that Mr. Owen has started on his trip forward from
Munyafunshi, but I haven't heard yet. On him depend
our fortunes to a great extent. The air is as thick as pea
soup now, and it is very hard to see.'
' KANSANSHI, September 15, 1913.
' I have just got off at last after some trouble with traction
engine people who tried to leave me in the lurch. Weber
came on here to see me from Musofi. Longitude of Munya-
funshi camp is 25 25' East of Greenwich and just in the
' MUNYAFUNSHI CAMP, October 10, 1913.
' I have moved here at last and very glad too, 190 miles
from Baya ! and this is half way. I had to stay some
days at Kansanshi, as our store had to be rebuilt. Much
business with the Mine people and District Commissioner
our Agent. It was rather a trying journey, as it 's the hot
season now, and the traction road to Kansanshi a foot thick
in dust all the way almost impossible to walk. After
Kansanshi nothing but water-holes to drink from. This is
going to be a nice camp. It was well chosen and everything
is working excellently. Everybody has had a hard time
and we shall have a week's rest here, getting the camps ready
for the rains. At the time of writing there is more grass
being put on the roof, and the " plasterers " are in, throwing
mud at the walls. Nothing has been left behind and nothing
forgotten. Owen's two waggons are on their return journey
from the 24th meridian, going very slowly, but our food
supply is assured, which is a great thing. He himself has
dysentery as well as the mine manager at Kansanshi. We
have our own postal service to here six days from Baya.'
' MUNYAFUNSHI RIVER, October 12, 1913.
' I am at present alone here, Gore-Browne, Sealy, and
Bremner all out doing various jobs. I expect very soon to
72 A MEMOIR OF
be able to see my way through as regards triangulation via
the South, where I sent one of the Corporals to report. If
BO, I shall only stay here long enough to finish off September
quarter accounts, get the three N.C.O.'s equipped for
another three months, and then go off to Mwinilunga a
Government post just made on the Lunga River (Lat.
11 43', Long. 24 26'), where I shall make my headquarters.
We 've still a nasty bit from Mwinilunga to the Corner.
I have a good bit of correspondence here, and six months
of accounts to collect, several sick carriers to attend to,
and as soon as I settle down to do something a native or
two rolls hi with a basket of flour, so I have to go to the
store and weigh it out and give out whatever is wanted,
white cloth, blue cloth, salt, or money. As regards J.'s
Copper all I can say is that the Mines Bwana Mkubwa and
Kansanshi are in the hands of first-class managers out here
and are hard at work. The thing is the transport and
labour difficulty, and until the Lobito Bay line is finished
I can't see any prospects. The Kansanshi, I should say,
is the best. It 's practically owned by the Tanganyika
October 17, 1913.
' We are just making our final preparations for our dash
to Mwinilunga but this weather nothing can be done as
it 's impossible to see with the haze and smoke of bush-
fires. We had some rain, but it only made the whole
country like a Turkish bath thicker than ever. However,
the rains will be here in a month and everything must be
prepared houses re-thatched, ditches dug, and stores
repaired, and meal carried so as not to get wet. The Belgians
' MTTNYAFTJNSHI, November 13, 1913.
* I have just put the two new N.C.O.'s on to their new
bits their last section each and I await the third to-
' We may pay a dividend in the end.'
' MuNYAjrtmsm, November 21, 1913.
' I am still waiting here for the doctor to arrive from
Kansanshi. I have to make everything absolutely fool-
proof before leaving, so that not a single carrier can go
astray, and there 's a lot of sickness. All three N.C.O.'s
are on their last section, but at present as we have been
able to give them no fixed points they can only make
traverses all over their area and fit them in afterwards.
The last year has gone quick enough, but not a day's pleasure
in it. I don't think we have quite broken the back of it
yet. The last bit is the worst. I feel an old man ! l We
shall get no more meat. The grass is growing up in the
forests and it is impossible to see anything. We 've had a
lot of rain already, and it will continue now incessantly till
April. If I can only join up our triangulation with the
base the " A " Portuguese Commission cut at Mwinilunga
(Lat. 11 45' 00*, Long. 24 25' 00"), which will be my head-
quarters, I shall feel easier.
' The news of the arrival of two Boundary Commissions
in their country was too much for the wild Balunda, who
migrated wholesale, and our difficulties were thereby
much increased. However, when they heard we were only
there to fix their boundaries and make life more secure for
them, they soon began to return and rebuild their villages
and grow food, though it was some time before they could
be prevailed upon to believe that people who were always
climbing trees and building houses in the air, as they termed
our beacons, could be up to any good. At Mwinilunga Mr.
Pound, the Native Commissioner, had made his headquarters,
an altogether suitable site on the high banks upon the
Lunga River and free from tsetse fly. The river here is
80 yards wide and 15 feet deep ; we had to build a bridge
1 I find a letter from Col. Hedley, B.E. (now Sir Coote Hedley, K.B.E.,
C.B., C.M.G.): 'Dec. 23. Yours from Mwinilunga just received. Your
letter ia a record of a struggle against great difficulties, but I think you are
in a fair way to overcome them and that the end is now in view. In future
years you will look back with pleasure on your present arduous work.'
74 A MEMOIR OF
as the only canoe had been washed away. Near here the
British Section of the Anglo-Portuguese Boundary Com-
mission had measured a base and triangulated to the 24th
meridian. To this we joined up, thereby fixing the boundary
pillar where the 24th meridian touched the watershed.'
' MWINILTJNGA, December 19, 1913.
' . . . Have just returned from a fortnight's trip 50 miles
S.E. near the Kabompo River trying to join up the tri-
angulation which one of my N.C.O.'s had taken as far as
25" 00' and Lat. 12" 15' and then came to a sudden stop !
owing to being able to see nothing but ridge after ridge.
In fact, a piece of the Sakania country again which took
us six months to do 40 miles. Consequently I left Sealy to
do the observing work at a hill 30 miles W. of Kansanshi
as soon as he was able to leave Munyafunshi, where he 's
been sick some two months, and rushed in here to tackle
this 50 miles necessary to join up with commencement of the
A.P.B.C. work at Mwinilunga here.
' Everything has gone so well carriers the ox transport
N.C.O.'s. Most trying work this climbing trees in the
forest until you find the right one and the building of a
theodolite station hi it can't be left to any one but myself.
Fortunately I have an excellent N.C.O. who can do anything
he has to do, but one has to be on the spot to say " what
next." I have to gradually work up to fix a point on the
watershed of Mwinilunga in connection with the last fixed
point, i.e. Sakabinda. I am practically running the Belgian
show, too, with carriers and meal all along the line. I haven't
tasted a bit of meat for over six weeks now, and am not
likely to, owing to these wild Balunda having only just
returned to their homes after their flight into Congo and
Portuguese territory. They haven't a fowl hardly, and
have come down to selling their children. They live on
wild honey and roots and fruits in the forest. The Bulawayo
fowls, of which I have twenty-five here worth about 3
apiece I should think here have saved me, but they don't
lay much four or five eggs a day and if any visitors
EDWARD ANTHONY STEEL 75
are about, it 's hardly enough for three of us to live on !
Our mail service is working excellently ten days for the
250 miles up here. It 's run in six sections from Baya, and
I don't know if the runners will stick it. It is a fine day
to-day, and it makes everything bright after the continual
rain for the last month. We are still several inches behind-
hand, so may expect more than daily rain for the next three
months. I keep very fit and don't look like giving in at
' CAMP S. OF MWINILUNQA, January 13, 1914.
' Arrived here last night. In about ten days I shall be
able to breathe freely and the end will be hi sight for the
first time. Wilde and myself have just got through with
the triangulation, and it now, I hope, only means " cutting "
through the forest a bit. At present we have only connected
up from a tree -top to use for a theodolite, but by judicious
clearing and making a place for the instrument about
40 feet high we shall get through. To-day we have had
100 carriers only making one avenue through a ridge some
3 miles in front of us which shut out the view to one point,
and we have some five points around us to connect up.
Sealy is out again I believe.'
' NR. MWINILUNOA, February 16, 1914.
' In five weeks we shall have finished the map on the 24th
meridian, and then begin the gradual retirement to Baya.
' If everything goes well I expect to leave Cape Town
30th May, which will mean exactly fourteen months in the
country, while the rate of work will, I fancy, work out
nearly to a record.'
March 3, 1914.
' Not much news except that the Belgians are almost
stationary. I am giving them more carriers to enable me
to get the frontier decided before I leave. Then they can
stay as long as they like. They are drawing such fat pay
that they don't like being hurried !
76 A MEMOIR OF
' I am sending this via Mwinihmga-Kasempa mail road
for a change. It will probably arrive the same time as
next week's letter by our Express Service. It has rained
more than ever the last week.'
' MWHOLUNOA, March 9, 1914.
' Not much news. Mostly calculations and rain. The
Lunga R. became impassable, the canoe washed away,
and communication stopped, and Weber, who had been
observing the other side, could not come, which has delayed
our work. We have to agree on a mean value for here, and
are waiting for the Belgian result. I shall then make a
trip N.W. to the corner and mark the spot where the 24th
meridian crosses the watershed. Then return here, pack
off the various " whites," and start the accounts for the
last six months. Rather a business ! I shall then retire
via Munyafunshi, Kansanshi, etc., clearing out what is left
in the way of stores, etc., at each spot. And there is the
whole map to agree upon and draw before I leave and sign.
4 Fifty miles N.W. of Mwinilunga is the mission station
of Kalene Hill, where Dr. Fisher has chosen an altogether
beautiful and healthy site on the north end of a ridge
which rises sharp out of the plain and runs S.W. into
Portuguese territory, forming the divide between the
Luisabo and Zambezi Rivers. Surrounded here by a
collection of peaceful and prosperous villages that nestle
on the precipitous hill-side of the mission station, Dr.
Fisher, ably seconded by his family and a few other fellow-
workers, undertakes to cure both body and soul in this
heathen land, where he has spent upwards of thirty years.
In the midst of quite a little British Colony a few happy
days were spent waiting for the arrival of the Belgian and
Portuguese Commissions on the 24th meridian.'
' KAMBOSHI, April 23, 1914.
' I have just returned from the Belgian camp on the
24th meridian, and after fixing up everything here have
been busy getting Wilde and Sealy off across Rhodesia.
EDWARD ANTHONY STEEL 77
I was leaving here to-day for Munyafunshi and Kansanshi
when suddenly the three Portuguese officers arrived here ;
they had come up very quick from Baya, and the carriers
had met them in good time and everything gone splendid.
Not finding that I had arrived there, at Munyafunshi, they
came on here, and everything is being fixed up most satis-
4 SAKANIA, May 31, 1914.
' Yours of 8th May just arrived to-day, and I leave here
this evening by the mail train for the south. I shall have a
week to spend at Livingstone. I have been looking forward
for ever so long to a summer at home on leave.'
Arrives in England, July 1914 Reports at War Office Ordered on
Service Leaves Southampton, August 27 Havre St. Nazaire
Le Mans Ordered to join 4th Division, 35th Battery Jury In
action to crossing the Aisne Ordered to North, Oct. 7 March,
Villers-Cotterets to Compiegne Train to Hazebrouck, Oct. 12 In
action Bailleul Chateau de Nieppe Promoted Major.
LEAVING Cape Town in June, Capt. Steel arrived in
London on July 7, reported his arrival at the Colonial
Office, and almost before he had time to look round
the strain of threatening war came upon us. In the re-
moteness of the Congo - Zambezi watershed Capt. Steel
had been absorbed in his work and had not been able to
keep himself fully instructed in world politics, and the
imminence of war came on him as a surprise, perhaps too
as a disappointment, because he had undoubtedly looked
forward to a summer holiday in England. When war broke
out he reported himself to the War Office : he was too late
to form part of the Expeditionary Force as the Batteries
were all filled up ; he was, however, directed to hold
himself in readiness, and on August 20 received a telegram
directing him to duty with Royal Artillery drafts proceeding
to Southampton as reinforcement to the Expeditionary
Force, and on the 27th he embarked for the Continent.
Writing on September 18 from ' Advanced base ' : ' We
have had a very unpleasant time, herded about like sheep,
and also a three days' voyage hi a cattle -boat that nearly
gave us all typhoid. I have had a sore throat myself
ever since the night I slept on the Turcoman from South-
ampton and got wet through. It has been raining most
days since we arrived here, and as we have only a field
to bivouac in it is pretty unpleasant. Expect to go up to
A MEMOIR OF EDWARD ANTHONY STEEL 79
the Front at any time. It 's a question of transport and
horses. For some absurd reason we are not allowed to see
any English papers. There is no doubt some very fine
things have been done by various Regiments, some having
been practically wiped out, and if due notice is not allowed
to be taken of it in the Press it 's bound to have an effect
on recruiting as well as on the forces in the field. A few
Regiments have got a good bit to get back from the Germans
if we can believe any of the stories. I am afraid there is
not much left of my old L Battery. 1 I wonder if the story
has ever got published in England ? '
The ' three days' voyage in a cattle -boat ' mentioned
above requires explanation that at the time was not forth-
coming. At the commencement of the campaign the
British base was Havre and the advanced base Amiens, but
when Amiens was threatened, it was decided to remove
the advanced base to Le Mans and the British base from
Havre to St. Nazaire. Capt. Steel with drafts of men and
horses arrived at Havre while this movement was in progress
the last week in August, and after a day or two at Havre
he re-embarked and was conveyed to St. Nazaire, where he
arrived in the first week in September. This accounts for
the cattle-boat and for the delay.
' Sept. 26. I have now finished wandering about doing
duty with various detachments, etc., and leave to-morrow
to join a Battery of the 4th Division, which will be my home
in future. It is my old " crowd " from Woolwich and
contains my old Brigade. I think, however, " Short " is
the only one I know who was with me at Woolwich. It
consists of the 39th, 88th, and 68th Batteries. But of
course there are many others I may go to in this Division.'
This is what happened. He joined, September 28, the
35th Battery, 37th Brigade, R.F.A., of which this was the
order of battle, August 1914 (see Diary) :
1 The disaster to L Battery and the heroic conduct of the officers and
men was one of the most remarkable incidents of the war. (R. A. War
Commemoration Book, pp. 9, 10. Bell & Sons.)
80 A MEMOIR OF
37TH BRIGADE R.F.A., 4TH DIVISION
Lt.-Col. C. Battiscombe.
Adjutant Capt. R. C. Dodgson.
Orderly Officer Li. R. B. Stoney.
Battery. Major. Capt. Lta.
31st. D. H. Gill. M. Hartland-Mahon. A. G. Bates.
G. P. Simpson.
35th. H. A. Koebel. E. A. Wallinger. M. A. Phillips.
K. M. Agnew.
55th. G. N. Cartwright. J. R. Colville. P. H. Ferguson.
A. G. Hess.
S. H. Doake.
At the Aisne in September Capt. Wallinger and Lt.
Browning were wounded. The former was disabled, and
was succeeded by Capt. Steel.
On January 1, 1915, the Batteries were commanded by
Majors Hartland-Mahon, Steel, and Colville ; the Captains
were Phillips, Agnew, etc.
The ' Old Crowd,' viz. the 14th and 37th Brigades, whom
we had known at Woolwich when Capt. Steel was in the
68th Battery in 1908-9, had all disappeared except Major
Short, and he was killed in action in June 1917 Lt.-Col.
DIARY OF 35TH BATTERY R.F.A., AUGUST 18, 1914,
TO SEPTEMBER 19, 1914
Aug. 18. Battery left Woolwich and marched to Dollis Hill,
Hendon, where 4th Division was concentrated.
18-21. Dollis Hill.
22. By train to Southampton.
23. Disembarked Boulogne.
24. By train to Fresnoy Le Grand.
25. Marched to Viesly.
During evening retired to Ligny.
EDWARD ANTHONY STEEL 81
Aug. 26. (Battle of Le Cateau.) In action all day in
positions near Ligny. Retired at night to
27. Retirement continued in afternoon and during
28. To Voyenne and Muriancourt.
29. Retirement continued to Noyon and Carlepont.
,,30. Chateau de Cheuve.
,,31. Pierrefonds, Verberie,
Sept. 1. Retirement continued to Barren.
,, 2. ,, Dammartin.
3. Lagny and Jossigny.
4. Chateau Ferrieres.
5. Brie Comte Robert.
End of retirement.
During Battle of Le Cateau Battery had following
No. 70917 Gunner Cruttenden, killed.
60967 Sergeant Harkness, wounded.
,, 68119 Driver Sargent, wounded.
68105 Driver Francis, wounded.
And during retirement :
No. 67087 Bomb. Turner, wounded.
32710 Bomb. Richards, wounded.
6. Battery closing with flank -guard advanced to
7. Advance continued to Maisoncelles.
8-9. Battle of the Marne. Battery was in action at
10. Advance continued to Dhuisy.
Battery formed part of advanced -guard to 4th
Division on ll-12th.
82 A MEMOIR OF
Sept. 13. Beginning of Battle of : the Aisne. Battery crossed
to north bank of river during afternoon and
came into action at Buoy le Long.
Night, 13/14. Withdrawn to just north of Aisne near Venizel.
Sept. 14. In action all day Venizel. Capt. E. A. Wallinger
15. Battery withdrawn south of river and came into
action near Jury.
15-Oct. 1. In action at Jury.
17. Lt. L. Browning wounded.
19. 2nd Lt. H. W. Deacon joined.
Capt. Steel joined the Battery on Sept. 28.
CAPTAIN STEEL'S ITINERARY, 1914
Aug. 27. Left Southampton 5.30 P.M.
28. Landed at Havre. Billeted with M. Pierre
Morgand, 185 Boulevard Strassbourg.
Sept. 2. Left on s.s. Turcoman (cattle-boat) for St. Nazaire.
4. Arrived St. Nazaire. Disembarked after one of
the most disgusting voyages.
6. Billeted in a small pub. near station. Day
occupied loading trains for the Front, reinforce-
ments for Infantry.
8. Sent off Cavalry reinforcements. Dined at Bre-
9. Left St. Nazaire.
10. Arrived Le Mans, marched out to Le Pau camp.
11. Took over Q.M. of camp.
20 . Went to Marre to round up stores , harness , and guns .
21. Went to Fourcages, riding. Orders for D. W.
Osborne, G. R. Russell to 26th Brigade, 1st
25. Received orders to join 4th Division.
26. Left Le Mans 10 P.M.
28. Arrived Neuilly. Rode out to Div. H.Q.
Returned to Villemontoire to pick up baggage
and waggon, and reached 35th Battery H.Q.
at 9 P.M. at Jury.
EDWARD ANTHONY STEEL 83
Sept. 29. All day in position. Efforts mainly directed on
the village of Chivres.
Oct. 2. Left Jury 11.30 P.M. and crossed Venizel Bridge
1.30 to take up an advanced position near Bucy
3. Got into Billet at 4.30 Venizel. Left at 8 A.M.
for the gun positions. Spent most of the day
reconnoitring for an advanced observation post
which was found eventually in the tall trees by
which the Somerset L.I. had their trenches.
,, 4. Shelled German trenches N.E. of Caffres. New
Observation Station finished 60 feet high in
tree 1000 yards from German trenches. Divine
service held in next field for those not required
for the service of the guns.
,, 5. Spent all day assisting the attack of Infantry on
Braisne. Good effect obtained from our Obser-
vation Station. Many Germans were seen during
the day, their position being strongly held by
rows of trenches.
,, 6. Bad weather, almost impossible to see anything
all day. No firing except a certain amount of
sniping by the Infantry. In the evening we
crossed the Aisne.
7. In action till 4 P.M. when orders came to move.
Left Venizel 7 P.M. and reached Septmonts
9 P.M., where we bivouacked in the open and
passed an unpleasant night.
8. Hard frost in the morning. Left Septmonts 1 P.M.
Marched to Chacrise, arriving 4 P.M. and were
billeted in a farm belonging to M. Dubois.
,, 9. Spent the day at Chacrise and had a good rest.
Left at 9 P.M. and marched all through the night.
10. Arrived 4 A.M. at Villers-Cotterets and bivouacked
in a field outside, very damp and unpleasant.
Left at 2 P.M. for Morienval, arriving 5 P.M.
11. Left Morienval at 8 A.M. and marched to Compiegne .
Spent the day in making arrangements for entrain-
ing. Left at 9.30 P.M. Very cold night in train.
84 A MEMOIR OF
Oct. 12. Passed through Abbeville, Boulogne, Calais, during
the day, arriving Hazebrouck 3.30 P.M. Billeted
by 7.30 about 2 miles out.
13. Left 7 A.M., took up a position at midday to sup-
port our Infantry attack on Fontainehoek and
Meteren. The position was taken by the 12th
Infantry Brigade. Billeted in a farm at Fon-
14. All day advance on Bailleul ; reached 8 A.M. The
Germans had left the night before. The people
were glad to see us, and gave all they had.
15. Got billets in a Maison de Charite which the Nuns
had prepared for a hospital ; the day was one of
ever-changing orders to move and wait. The in-
habitants appeared in the streets for the first time
for 15 days, the period of German occupation.
16. Remained hi Bailleul all day.
17. Left Bailleul, and took up a position in the grounds
of the Chateau de Nieppe, a beautiful mansion
which the Germans had left in a most disgusting
state . The gardener received us with open arms .
18. Left Nieppe to take up position near Le Bizet. In
action all day. Observation Station in Le Bizet
Church ; supported Infantry attack on Le
Touquet and Verlinghein. The enemy held the
railway line strongly. Slept close by in an
19. All day in action, a few miles farther on ; very
slow progress was made, the enemy occupying
entrenched positions in Le Touquet and Verling-
hein. Many casualties ; Verlinghein practically
20. Supported Infantry attack all day. Slow progress.
21. The enemy began attacking before daybreak, and
succeeded in reaching our advanced positions,
which were taken. Severe fighting round Le
Gheer. Later in the day Somerset L.I. re-
occupied the trenches.
EDWARD ANTHONY STEEL 85
Oct. 22. Le Bizet all day in action.
23. Left Le Bizet for Wytschaete to join the 2nd Cav.
Div. under Gen. Gough. Owing to difficulty of
observation could not fire till the evening. Ob-
servation by aeroplane on a German battery too
active near Oestervende.
24. Left Oestervende 11 A.M., returned to Le Bizet,
took up position as before, our waggon line more
25. In action all day.
26. In action all day. Received some attention from
the German Heavy Battery in the afternoon,
which got our range nicely.
Buried B. Macdonald in the Convent Le Bizet.
27. In the morning moved to new position behind the
28. A quiet day.
29. A quiet day. Enemy attacked in the evening.
30. Action continued till 2 P.M., the Germans retir-
ing very quickly.
31. In action all day Le Touquet.
Nov. 1. Spent the day in the Observing Station, a house
at Le Touquet, which was shelled all day, the
occupants remaining in the cellar.
2. Left 1.30 for Pt. 63, arriving about 4 P.M., and in
position by daybreak.
3. Promoted Major.
4-8. Continuously supporting the Infantry attacks on
Messines. Many Batteries were massed behind
Pt. 63. It was touched every day by German
shell of every description.
8. Sent off by Gen. Milne to the Infantry with a
section. Spent afternoon and evening in the
Worcester trenches, and blew up several houses
occupied by Germans.
9. After searching every tree in front of Ploegsteert
Wood, I eventually spotted a mined house just
behind E. Lanes, trenches as being the only
86 A MEMOIR OF
possible place to see from. Completed prepara-
tions during the night for observing the following
Nov. 10. Spent all day observing, and in the evening a night
attack was made which was unsuccessful. Got
some rest after 26 hours continuously in the
,, 11. Made reconnaissance of German position from a new
loop-hole higher up than previously. During
the night Germans had blown away half the
12-13. The same.
14. After observing all day for the Heavy Battery I
received orders to join the Battery after having
spent an exciting week. Every day a further
piece of my Observing Station was blown away
and the telephonic wire cut by shrapnel, so that
there was only just enough cover left to observe
15. Very bad day, snow, wind, and rain. Eventually
a shell hit the chateau we lived in, and started
a fire which we were unable to put out ; we had
to make a hurried retirement, saving what we
16. The chateau still burning. All had fallen in, and
gunpits full of water.
20. Left Pt. 63 at 3.30 for Nieppe ; replaced by 31st
25. Major Koebel went on leave.
30. Left Nieppe to take up position on Pt. 63 after
Dec. 1 . Major Koebel returned President of a Court-Martial.
5. Col. Vallentin came and chose positions.
6. Hawkesley came in afternoon.
7. Chose positions. Rained all day. Received letter
to begin work in preparation of gun positions.
19. Attack on Le Gheer.
21. Left 2.30 for England.
EDWARD ANTHONY STEEL 87
* Oct. I, 35th Battery R.F.A. I have now joined this
Battery of the 4th Division the Division should not be
mentioned in the address, only the Battery and you
will see from the papers what we are doing and where
we are nightly. We are still bombarding the German
position across the river which is a very strong one.
My old Battery and Brigade from Deep Cut are along-
side us the 68th and Short had a rather hot time
the other day, though only one subaltern was hit. The
Captain and one subaltern of this Battery too were badly
' Oct. 6, On the, Aisne : Soissons. Just at present we
have been in rather a tight place, as the enemy, being
hemmed in, gradually made some desperate attacks on
our trenches at night and got in. At one time they
could not have been more than 1000 yards from our
guns, but we shelled them out again ; one or two Infantry
fellows came running through fairly scared out, saying the
Germans were after them, but we soon blew them out of
the Battery up to the trenches again. Things are easier
' Oct. 22. The last three days the 4th Division has had
some severe fighting, and casualties have been carried past
the Battery all day long ; the Germans have made many
attacks upon us, and yesterday we expected to have them
making a charge on the Battery ; but they've given that up
now. In fact, their men won't do it. Our own Infantry
are first class. The particular Brigade we are supporting
have had six days in the trenches, without a wash or hot
meal, firing and being fired at incessantly, and they can't
stand that. It 's too much. To-day they have been relieved,
and we have been brought back about 1000 yds. and are
resting in a damp field. Hope to get a wash all over
later on, but one never knows when the mysterious Staff
are going to send one somewhere else. Some Regiments
are very nearly all reservists now, but their excellent
system of training soon polishes up the ignorant, and the
"shikar" spirit which is inculcated in their attack methods
88 A MEMOIR OF
is a fine sight. Unfortunately it 's very difficult country
flat and intersected with innumerable farms, hedges, villages,
very suitable for defence. Yesterday the whole attack
was held up by a single fortified block of cottages, and the
Seaforths were held up. We saw this, and after the fourth
Lyddite shell, which made the whole thatched roof slip
bodily down and hide up all the loop-holes, besides knocking
several walls down, a white flag appeared. Our men have
learnt to take no notice of this however. The next shell
made another white flag go up. After giving them a few
minutes to see if they were going to walk out and surrender,
which probably also meant a bullet, we sent a sixth shell.
This was too much. The whole of the defenders rushed out
with arms up in the air and without fire-arms into the
Seaforths' trenches. An almost unique sight I should think,
and one which shows the despondent spirit of the enemy.
I fancy a good many more who could surrender decently
would like to do so. The Seaforths took many prisoners
that day, and gained much ground, and the 4th Division
received the congratulations of General French for their
fine fighting spirit, etc. This was brought about by a few
well-placed shells by the 35th Battery R.F.A. which enabled
the Seaforths to get round in rear. They would probably
alone have never got over the ground without fearful
casualties. Everywhere the Germans have left a track of
misery, hatred, and famine. They seem to have done
nothing in these parts but rob and steal and live on the
people when we come along they just retire until cornered.
In one town the Germans left in the morning and we
arrived late at night. Two Germans had hidden under a
haystack in the field we came into action in. Their legs
were seen sticking out ; when pulled out, one of them said,
" I 've come from London damn War ! "
' The next morning the inhabitants crept out of their
houses for the first time for fifteen days the first time
they had smiled, fed, taken their clothes off, or washed.
This is a poor part, and people have to go out to fetch
water, food, etc., daily. The roads were crowded with
EDWARD ANTHONY STEEL 89
refugees returning to the homes they had left some to
find smoking ruins, others a bare cupboard ; but all thought
of nothing but the one fact " Les Anglais sont arrives."
For us they could not do too much those who had any house
left to offer placed all at our disposal. " Pour des gens
comme vous, on fait tout ce qu'on peut" was the common
cry. German orders to the troops, found in the field, say
that the troops cannot depend on supplies from Germany,
and they must live on the country. They have done so
cleared every caf6 of all its wines, cigars, spirits ; shops of
all their groceries and food -stuffs ; whilst every chateau
and house bears undeniable signs of wanton destruction.
What they couldn't take away they broke even to mirrors
and expensive china. This is not exceptional, but the
general rule, and seems to have been done for no reason
at all, except out of spite at not being able to reach Paris.
The inhabitants have been left with nothing but the apples
on the trees, walnuts, and potatoes, and one hears not a
grumble, unless one asks them : " C'est la guerre ! " The
Germans here have met with no opposition and have had
no fighting. They pushed as far as St. Omer and retired to
Armentieres when we came along. They have simply been
here living on the country so as to economise in supplies.
They will have to fight now, as we shall worry their communi-
cations if they let us get any farther. We were glad to get
away from the Battle of the Aisne, and it 's better the
British Army being on its own. We were in the middle
there, and co-operation with the French attacks never
came off successfully. We had a trying march round to
Compiegne ; all marching had to be done at night, owing to
aeroplanes, as the march of the whole British Army to a
flank was rather a dangerous operation, as well as each
unit's replacement by a French unit in the firing -line.
From Compiegne we entrained via Abbeville and Calais to
Hazebrouck owing to bridges being cut in the direct line.
It is quite impossible to sleep at night owing to the rifles
and cannon, and the sky so lit up by burning villages and
homes. Some people prefer to stay in their homes perhaps
90 A MEMOIR OF
they have nowhere to go to. But it 's a terrible thing to
see women and children rushing out of their houses when a
shell explodes in them. Nobody likes shelling a church
either, but in these parts it 's the only place one can see
SPECIAL ORDER OF THE DAY
BY FIELD-MARSHAL SIR JOHN FRENCH, G.C.B., G.C.V.O.,
K.C.M.G., Commander -in-Chief, British Army in the Field
October 16, 1914.
1. Having for 25 days successfully held the line of the river
Aisne, between Soissons and Villiers, against the most desperate
endeavours of the enemy to break through, that memorable
battle has now been brought to a conclusion, so far as the
British Forces are concerned, by the operation which has once
more placed us on the left flank of the Allied Armies.
2. At the close of this important phase of the campaign
I wish again to express my heart-felt appreciation of the ser-
vices performed throughout this trying period by the officers,
non-commissioned officers, and men of the British Field Forces
3. Throughout nearly the whole of that 25 days a most
powerful and continuous fire of artillery from guns of a calibre
never used before in field operations covered and supported
desperate infantry attacks made in the greatest strength and
directed at all hours of the day and night on your position.
Although you were thus denied adequate rest and suffered
great losses, hi no one case did the enemy attain the slightest
success, but was in variably thrown back with immense loss.
4. The powerful endurance of the troops was further greatly
taxed by the cold and wet weather which prevailed during the
greater part of the time.
5. Paragraph 2 of the Special Order of the Day, August 22,
ran as follows :
' All the regiments comprising the Expeditionary Foroe bear
on their colours emblems and names which constantly remind
them of glorious victories achieved by them in the past. I
have the most complete confidence that those regiments, as they
stand to-day in close proximity to the enemy, will not only
EDWARD ANTHONY STEEL 91
uphold the magnificent traditions of former days, but will add
fresh laurels to their standards.'
I cannot convey what I feel with regard to the conduct of the
troops under my command better than by expressing my con-
viction that they have justified that confidence well and nobly.
6. That confidence is everywhere endorsed by their fellow-
countrymen, and whatever may be before the British Army in
France, I am sure they will continue to follow the same glorious
path till final and complete victory is attained.
(Sd.) J. D. P. FRENCH,
The British Army in the Field.
' One of the biggest feats was the transfer of the entire
British Army stationed at Braisne, between Soissons and
Rheims more than 200,000 of them to St. Omer, a dis-
tance of about 70 miles, which was accomplished within three
This last paragraph refers to the move northwards men-
tioned in E.'s letter ; not exactly true as regards the
Artillery, which could not be moved so easily. It took
them five days.
' Oct. 26, B5th Battery R.F.A. (Extract of Letter.) I
have just returned from burying a bombardier of ours,
killed this morning during a little attention we received
from a " Jack Johnson " Battery. Yesterday they put a
Heavy Battery alongside us out of action, blowing up an
ammunition waggon, and to-day they found us. The first
shell, a 6-inch pretty useful cut the telephone wire to the
Battery Commander observing in front, and so rendered us
useless temporarily. Everybody crept into their holes
alongside the guns, except a bombardier operator who went
out to mend the wire and was unfortunately hit by a large
* There is no doubt, I think, that this is the work of spies.
The Heavy Battery always gets found, and no one likes
being near them.'
' Oct. 28. Everything is going on satisfactorily I think.
1 Army and Navy Journal, U.S.A.
92 A MEMOIR OF EDWARD ANTHONY STEEL
The Germans have given up attacking us. The morning
after that attack on us there were 400 dead picked up by us,
not much more than 2500 yds. from our position. I am not
having too bad a time. Only long hours, and no certainty
of rest even at night, and always up at 4.30.'
' Oct. 31, 35th Battery. (Probably south of the Lys.)
Enclosed a little summary of information passed round
to us, dated Oct. 24.
' The position of the 3rd Corps is unchanged.
' An attack was made on us yesterday, but did not succeed
(the 4th Division belongs to the 3rd Corps). On advancing
here we come into an area devastated by the Germans, and
it won't be pleasant until we reach the frontier. The
villages in front of our position and occupied by the Germans
present a terrible picture, and I fancy most of the inhabi-
tants must have perished.
' I am very fit myself, and don't seem to feel the cold or
Messines Neuve Chapelle Haig's Order, March 9 Affair of
Neuve Chapelle Reasons of Failure Attack on Aubers Bidge
Festubert Wounded Reasons of Failure June Festivities
Instruction at School of Gunnery, Aire Comments on Operations
of Year Opinions of other Officers.
' Nov. 6. Since my last we have been detached north-
wards on some special mission, and have been pretty busy
every day, and too many panic orders all through the night
to get much repose. The Germans have been making des-
perate attempts to get through somewhere, and apparently
have failed all along. Very difficult country all this
something like Essex very cut up with hedges, farms,
roads, etc., and hard to see. Everybody creeps about and
digs holes to avoid the shells which fly about most of the day.
At present I am writing in a very fine " chateau." It has
been somewhat knocked about by shell-fire, as it is visible
from the German position across the little river which
separates us. As a rule we don't get " chateaux," as the
General Staff usually occupy them. This one they got
shelled out of, fortunately, so we are comfortable. Our
Battery is in action just down by the orchard, and we come
up here for dinner and leave it at breakfast 5 A.M. The
road joining the house to the Battery is under fire at odd
intervals. Last night at dinner-time a shrapnel took away
most of the remaining windows on one side. It 's very nice
to sit down at a table and have nice plates and cups and
glasses to feed out of, and wine to drink, and really we are
very comfortable ; and now the milk, butter, and chocolate
have arrived we are doing ourselves well. I have fetched
two mattresses down from the bedrooms, which aren't safe,
to the lowest floor, and could sleep like anything if it wasn't
for the interruptions through the night. We haven't made
94 A MEMOIR OF
much progress the last two weeks here as we are only hold-
ing on very thinly but there has been much slaughter
done, and attacks and counter-attacks every day. Some
villages round here present a terrible appearance. I wonder
what the Mr. Brown of the " Englishman's " type would
say if he could get a taste of war at his front door. In this
chateau here, with its stock of domestic animals, model farm,
workmen's cottages, summer-houses, lodges, everything
that money can buy, one can see how the one idea of the
people has been to get away and be safe. They don't seem
to mind the loss of everything as long as they can get away
and stay with some one else their friends. The poorer
people, of course, who have no friends to go to, as they say,
hold up their hands and say, " Que voulez-vous ? " when
asked why they stop, and so we meet them hi places with
all their windows broken, the upper storey of their house
blown away, and with shells flying round through the day,
huddled up together in the " Cave " or cellars of their home,
just calmly waiting till the evening to go up and get their
food cooked. And all this they count as nothing compared
to the return of the Germans. Gladly would they live like
rats in their cellars as long as we stop with them, using
what 's left of their upper storeys for observation stations,
and their kitchens for cooking anything, so long as the
Germans don't return. Such was the daily scene at Le
Touquet a village which has been the scene of severe fight-
ing, but which we have never been able yet to completely
occupy the Germans still occupy the outside edge. Here
in this chateau (which of course hasn't been visited by
Germans, as nothing inside is broken and there is some
wine left, and which is just about on the line where the
British and German Forces met) everything seems to have
been left just as in peace time the fowls and chicks run-
ning about expecting some one to feed them, which never
happens, beautiful dogs in kennels pining for food which
never arrives, while the cattle were still tied up in the farm
we use as an observation station. A shell came in and
killed two, and the remainder have wandered off to look
EDWARD ANTHONY STEEL 96
after themselves. In the chateau here everything seems
to show the people had never thought of the Germans reach-
ing this part, and then they probably heard they were ap-
proaching, and fled without waiting to see to anything
even locking the door of their wine-cellar. The children's
toys in the nursery are still left out as if they had just been
playing with them.'
' Nov. 23. It is just three weeks ago since we left for
northward. I have just got back for a few days out of the
firing-line to re-fit, re-equip, wash, and overhaul everything,
only just in time as far as I am concerned, for I had de-
veloped a cold that got worse and worse, and on arrival
here I went to bed for one day, and to-day am up, but not
out, sore throat, etc. It will be a few days before I am
much use again. I was most fearfully fit, and then the
chateau I think I told you of was our home the basement
part of it was at last struck by German shells. They have
been all round it for several weeks, for the upper part from
the first storey upwards is clearly visible from the German
position near Messines. It was a wretched day, snow and
wind, and I had come in to get some food, when we felt
several shells strike the upper part or tower. We thought
nothing of it until a telephone message from the Battery
said smoke and flames were issuing from the top. We
rushed up with pots and pails of water to try and put it
out, but with a gale blowing and the woodwork well alight
we hadn't a chance ; it was a case of " sauve qui peut." After
we had got all our things out into the rain, including mat-
tresses, blankets, etc., I tried to get out as much of the
owner's belongings as possible on to the lawn valuable
furniture, pottery, piano, etc. during which process I went
through many shades of temperature. It was well after
dark when I had finished, and we prepared to instal our-
selves in the Lodge for the night. After some dinner I
returned with a party to see if the fire was enough subdued
to put the things in for the night, fearing they might be
looted. Our living room hi the basement, which had iron
girders for the roof, seemed likely to withstand everything,
96 A MEMOIR OF
so we put the furniture, piano, etc., all in there for the night.
In the morning we found the iron girders and all had fallen
in and destroyed everything. All this was Messines way.
We have now been relieved there and come down south
again to where we were before, but I had to lay up for a day
or so, with a go of Flu and sore throat, etc., as a result, and
I am just getting over it. It has been terribly cold the last
week, the whole country is ice. I may be able, if all goes
well, to run across for a few days later on. I can't say at
all if I shall be leaving this Battery, so go on sending things
as before. I can let you know at once if I move. Whilst
on this last trip north my old Colonel, who was a Major at
Ewshot in 1900 with me, selected me for a special job that
wanted doing urgently. I had to work within 200 yards of
the German trenches, and I was at it a week, being missed
by yards only most of the day by shells, etc., and as a result
have heard from the General R.A. that he has sent up my
name to the Divisional for " Distinguished service in the
field." Of course, this doesn't mean that I shall necessarily
get anything, but it 's a start.'
Capt. Steel had been promoted in October, but he did not
hear of it till later. He got 10 days' leave, and came home
in December, and meanwhile his former Commander left
the Battery (Major, now Lt.-jCol., Koebel).
ORDER OF THE DAY
The G.O.C. wishes to congratulate the 4th Division most
heartily on the tactical skill and fine fighting spirit shown by
all ranks in to-day's successful operations. The news all round
is excellent, and as the Indian troops are expected to arrive in
line within the next few days, there should be every chance
of a successful termination to the present situation. He feels
sure that the 4th Division will continue to-morrow the good
work they have done to-day.
A. A. MONTGOMERY,
Lt.-CoL, General Staff, 4th Dimsion.
EDWARD ANTHONY STEEL 97
' 35-ra BATTERY R.F.A., 4ra DIVISION,
' December 31, 1914.
' I got back last night about 11 P.M. I don't like the
journey from Boulogne to here over cobbled roads for ten
hours a bit. I am now definitely in command of this
Battery, so this is my home for some time to come. I only
wish that I had known before leaving, as I should have
arranged for lots of things. I think I did nearly everything
I wanted to, and forgot nothing.'
' Jan. 18. Just a line by one of my Sergeants coming
home on leave. Would you please try and get for me a
black tin Despatch Box, just like that of mine at home with
the stamps in it not the deeper one that came back from
Havre, but the new one I left with you when I went to the
Congo. I want one to keep confidential papers in, and we
have nothing in the Battery.'
' Jan. 21. Would you send me by Parcel Post my Pierrot
Costume complete, dark blue trousers, jacket, skull cap, and
Pierrot cap, and also professor's hat and cloak, which should
be in my cardboard hat-box. Then could you take my
banjo 1 to Harrod's to see it is all right, extra strings to be
1 The banjo has quite a little history of its own that may as well be told
The precise instructions given by Major Steel were not carried out because
on account of submarines the boat and specified train were delayed, and it
became necessary to try and get it delivered to some returning N.C.O. from
home. Our cook, Miss Hamlin, whose brother was serving with R.E., and who
was interested in the adventure, made several attempts to catch a returning
N.C.O. at Victoria, but for various reasons they all failed, and it was con-
signed, carefully packed, to the Shipping Agency as it was too heavy for
parcel post. In April it was still undelivered, and the exact date of its
arrival has not been recorded owing to the transfer of the Battery from
the 4th Division. It had gone to that Division, and in May was discovered
and reached its destination in June. When Major Steel returned in
September 15 he brought it with him ; he did not take it out again in the
spring of 1916 ; in July he wrote and asked to have it sent out through the
M.F.O., Southampton. After he was wounded in September 1916 on
the Somme the Battery was suddenly moved away, and, along with other
of his property which was never heard of again, the banjo disappeared,
98 A MEMOIR OF
put in, and put in a box, and taken by special messenger to
Victoria Station, S.E. & C.R., to catch the 8.30 A.M. boat train
to Folkestone on the morning of 28th January, and it must
be handed over by this messenger to Sergeant Cummings
or Dyer or Ridgers to bring to me. Lastly, some banjo
music which is in the top of my large tin box (uniform).
* The R.A. Divisional Follies are being started, and when
each Battery retires for its fortnightly rest, entertainments
will be given. '
' Jan. 30. The music and Fancy Dress arrived this even-
ing. My best thanks for all your trouble.'
' Feb. 14. The horses and waggon line are all back there
now, and we take it in turns to be with them. Only I have
been very busy preparing Observing Stations for our new
position here. The " Divisional Follies " have started, and
have been giving two performances a night in a Cinema
Theatre not very far back from the firing-line, and have
been a great boon to the men when relieved from their turn
in the trenches.
' I saw Sealy had been wounded. I hope not badly. 1
and it was not till 1917 it was discovered by his cousin, Major Clive
Mellor, R.E., at Bethune and sent home.
Major Steel did not take it to Mespot, as things seemed uncertain
(September 1918), and meantime the banjo had rested packed at the
Pall Mall Forwarding Agency, Carlton Street, and to the manager Major
Steel (now Lt.-Col.) wrote asking to have it sent to Basra. Meanwhile
his plans were altered, and when in January he was under orders for
Vladivostok he cabled to send the banjo thither, but it had already been
despatched in consequence of his directions to the Shipping Agency at
Avonmouth for Basra. However, a Government agency such as it was did
not move in a great hurry, and by means of the telegraph the manager
of the aforesaid agency managed to get its destination transferred to
When Lt.-Col. Steel arrived at Vladivostok, and was wandering about
the wharves waiting for a train to convey him to Omsk, he spied lus
banjo being unloaded from the Carmarthen with a quantity of guns and
Artillery stores for the B.M.M. and he rescued it and took it off with him,
and in the wilds of Siberia it was a constant companion till his death, when
it was carefully packed by Major Cameron and forwarded to his mother.
1 Lt. E. M. Sealy, R.E., who was with him on the Rhodesia-Congo B.C.,
a very promising officer and general favourite, was seriously wounded early
in the war, came home and apparently recovered, but later his wound
broke out and caused his death.
EDWARD ANTHONY STEEL 99
As regards the Burberry Tent, I am expecting it to be in-
valuable later on ; in fact, as soon as we start moving I
must order a mattress for it. The weather here is very bad
again, and I think I am developing rheumatics. Continual
wet feet. We are very busy preparing for the spring now.
I hope we shall get a move on, or that the Germans will.
Both sides seem quite happy facing each other.'
' Feb. 28. Since my last we have had another move,
and are temporarily with the 8th Division down by Neuve
Chapelle rather annoying, being shifted out of the part
we were becoming experts in. This is the second change in
' March 9. I 've not had a moment for anything the
last two weeks. We are on the eve of some movement,
I hope success, and I do everything myself. We don't like
the change to this 8th Division much one of the newly
constituted ones which seems to get nothing and have
nothing in the same working order as the 4th.'
On March 9 Sir Douglas Haig issued the following Special
Order to the First Army :
In front of us we have only one German Corps spread out
on a front as large as that occupied by the whole of our Army
We are now about to attack with about forty-eight battalions
a locality in that front which is held by some three German
battalions. It seems probable also that for the first day of
the operations the Germans will not have more than four
battalions available as reinforcements for the counter-attacks.
Quickness of movement is, therefore, of first importance to
enable us to forestall the enemy and thereby gain success
without severe loss.
At no time in this war has there been a more favourable
moment for us, and I feel confident of success. The extent of
that success must depend on the rapidity and determination
with which we advance.
Although fighting in France, let us remember that we are
fighting to preserve the British Empire and to protect our
homes against the organised savagery of the German Army.
100 A MEMOIR OF
To ensure success each one of us must play his part, and fight
like men for the honour of Old England.
The affair of Neuve Chapelle, at first announced as a
victory, was really one of the greatest blunders of the
campaign. One correspondent, 1 and the only one who
gave any reasonable explanation, wrote :
' Weeks passed before the occurrences of that fateful
day were made clear to me. Every sort of rumour 2 was
afloat. On the 10th and llth I was between Merville
(where General Haig had his headquarters), Estaires, and
Laventie, but no one seemed to know in those days as to
just why things had gone so badly when the promise of
success had been so great.
* Later I knew.
' General Haig had been quite reasonably correct in his
estimate of the enemy's strength. Our chance to break
through the German line was the finest opportunity of the
' That with such odds in our favour, with a preponderance
of guns and shells as well, we should have failed so signally,
and lost over 18,000 men into the bargain, required some
1 Frederic Coleman, With Cavalry.
1 These rumours emanated from persons ignorant of the real cause of
the disaster to account for the failure ; it needs to be emphasised that
the attack, for reasons stated (p. 101), failed on the first day, and everything
that occurred on the three following days was useless slaughter. One of
these rumours, viz. that the Artillery had fired into their own troops,
arose from ignorance of any elementary knowledge of the scientific co-
operation of Artillery and Infantry in an attack and it is to be feared
also of the Brigade Commanders and their Staffs. In order to secure this
co-operation by means of the barrage and limited objective (or, as Mr.,
now Sir, P. Gibbs calls it, the time-table system), it is essential that the
Brigade Commanders should not only understand their instructions, but
that their Staffs should see that they are carried out. When the com-
plete history of this war comes to be written, it will be found that many
blunders resulted from the same causes ; but as to Neuve Chapelle it seems
that the Infantry did not stop at the line arranged but proceeded into
Neuve Chapelle. It is not quite so clear what the actual arrangement was,
but if any casualties occurred on this account they were no doubt exag-
gerated at the time because every one was searching for a scapegoat.
GROUP OF OFFICERS 35x11 BATTERY, AT COMPIEGNE, OCT. 1914.
Lieut. Deacon. Lieut. Agnew. Lieut. Phillips. Maj. KoebeL
GROUP OF MEN SSTH BATTERY, AT COMPIEGNE, OCT. 1914.
Facing p. too.
EDWARD ANTHONY STEEL 101
'The tragedy of Neuve Chapelle was a failure to take
advantage of an initial success. The 25th Brigade, with
the 23rd Brigade on its left, nobly did the work assigned to it.
It took Neuve Chapelle itself, and reached the position it
had hoped to reach. The 24th Brigade was to come up,
through the 23rd and 25th Brigades, and as it advanced
the 20th Brigade, on its left, was to move forward. Still
to the left of the 20th Brigade the 21st Brigade was in
readiness, and on its left the Northamptonshire Yeomanry,
which had been put into the trenches previously occupied
by the 20th Brigade, to free the command for the attack.
' Thus, once the preliminary ground clearing was done
by the 23rd and 25th Brigades on the right, and the town
of Neuve Chapelle was taken, the 24th Brigade was to come
on and form the right of a line composed of itself, the
20th and 21st Brigades, which were to pivot on the North-
amptonshire Yeomanry and sweep over the Aubers Ridge.
' On the left of the Yeomanry waited the 22nd Brigade,
ready to jump forward the moment this swinging movement
'The initial success won, the whole line waited, eyes
on the right, for the signal to go on. Before nine o'clock
in the morning all was ready, and the road cleared.
' All day the watchers waited in vain.
' It was after four o'clock in the afternoon before the
' It was then too late.
' The great opportunity had been lost, and lost for
' The Germans had rallied, filled farms with machine-guns,
and mowed down the gallant 23rd and 25th Brigades men
who had won such splendidly advanced positions.' *
On this point General French wrote : ' I am of opinion
that this delay would not have occurred had the clearly
expressed order of the G.O. Commanding First Army been
1 See also Major Steel's report of March 10 (p. 102). The preponderance
of shells is incorrect.
102 A MEMOIR OF
more carefully observed, or had the G.O.C. IV. Corps been
able to bring up his reserve brigades more speedily into
One explanation was that the Reserve Brigade had to
march some distance to their station and were too tired to
advance, and it was asserted at the time that there was no
transport available. This again was contradicted ; and we
were told with equal confidence that transport was ready
but was not allowed to be used for the purpose.
Whatever may have been the cause of that delay in
bringing up the reserves on the first day of the attack, it
seems clear that all the correspondence and rumours that
were afloat were merely attempts to excuse the failure to
make good on the following day, and threw no light on the
initial blunder, which, so far as the public is concerned, has
not yet been explained.
' March 10. After the first phase of the bombardment
was over, the Infantry to our front advanced and the
Battery turned on to the trenches in front of the Pagoda
as arranged. The Infantry did not stop at the German
First Line but proceeded on to Neuve Chapelle. I accord-
ingly proceeded there, and made my Observing Station in
the Brewery. No Germans were seen this side of the Bois
de Biez till the end part of the afternoon, when they came
on in some force down from Le Rusie, turned off to their
right, and assembled in and behind the many small houses
between the corner of the wood and H. 98. Here they
were shelled with so much effect that they scattered and
made a bit of a counter-attack, it seems, between 93 and
85 on our left. They also proceeded to take up and improve
a trench between 93 and 95, which was shelled steadily
until 5.15 P.M., after which firing ceased for the day.'
* March 24. (Extract of Letter received 26th.) ' I have
not had much time for letter- writing lately. However,
now the Battle of Neuve Chapelle is over I have come back
to my waggon line. I have sent my Captain up to the
guns for a few days for a change from the W. line. Of the
EDWARD ANTHONY STEEL 103
battle itself, which went on for five days and nights, you have
probably read lots. Believe very little of what you read
about it, except that when the Artillery was behind them
the Infantry advanced, when they had not got a hundred
guns behind them they didn't do anything. So it 's a
poor look-out for the future unless we get about ten times
the amount of ammunition we can get at present (thanks
to the strikes). As the whole attack practically took place
under my eyes one gets rather sick of the soldiers' letters in
the Daily Mail, and what Sergt. of the A.S.C. thinks
who was probably nowhere near. The 35th Battery took
i leading part, and if the others had done the same we
diould now have the Aubers Ridge. I send you a copy of
ny short Report. 1
4 Since the 15th we have been consolidating our position,
aid I spend most of my time sneaking about Neuve Chapelle,
wiilst when it gets dusk the repairing of the various look-
ott places I have made has to be done. My main Observing
Stition is the only house left with walls more than 10 feet
Want of water will be a serious question when we
advance beyond the area of ruins we have just entered. The
waier stinks, water carts are all broken, and no more available
fron home yet. They manage to raise a few in working
ordtr for the Infantry in the advanced trenches.'
' 35TH BATTERY R.F.A., IV-ra CORPS,
'April 18, 1916.
' On arrival I found the Battery had joined 7th Division,
ind to-morrow we join 8th Division. However, we shall
low remain with the IVth Corps for a while. I went to catch
he 8.15 A.M. train, but was told it was not going, and was
;ept waiting about, and then, finally, was told to go by the
! o'clock train by the Railway Transport Officer, which ran
n conjunction with a supply train to La Gorgne, the new
ail-head, which was very convenient. I didn't mean to take
Tancy Dress, as I thought we should be getting to work on
1 Major Steel's report of March 10 (p. 102), written evidently in ignorance
c the cause of failure.
104 A MEMOIR OF
arrival. But I see no signs of anything big. Now that I
have got a piano I propose having sing-songs at the guns
these moonlight evenings, just to cheer everybody up. It
is most trying and monotonous this continual watching and
Maurice Phillips, 1 transferred on promotion to Captain
to 31st Battery, was killed near Festubert on May 22, and
buried in the British Cemetery at Le Touquet the same
' 35TH BATTERY R.F.A., May 2, 1915.
' Thanks for yours of 28th. We have not gone up north
The other two Batteries have gone, but General Holland
wouldn't let us go. It has upset all our plans here. How-
ever, the Concert arrangements are being carried on between
the firing. The music and everything has arrived except
the Banjo. This may turn up at last. It was rather ui-
fortunate we should have left the 4th Division just as it
arrived, and I believe it is still there.
' We have had glorious weather here, but I wish we hid
more ammunition ! '
' 35TH BATTERY R.P.A., May 18, 191.
' We have been pretty well made use of lately, for dire<tly
after the attack on the Aubers-Fromelles Ridge, which vas
hardly a success, we were pulled out and sent down fere,
near Festubert, with 7th Division, to try to do somethng.
We have been at it three days now. It is very disheartering
work with our present Infantry. The day before yesterday
we had rather a hot time. I had a fine Observing Statior
in a rained Brewery 100 yards behind our trenches, and was
able to put my shells anywhere I liked, and the Infantrj
ought to have got La Bass6e, but ! (the attack failed), and
we have only just got on a bit. I got hit by some pieces o:
shrapnel in the morning whilst mending a telephone wire
and in the evening another one burst at the feet of two o:
my best men I have always in front with me to go 01
dangerous errands, blew them to pieces, whilst my Subalten
1 Originally Lt. in 35th Battery (see p. 80).
EDWARD ANTHONY STEEL 106
got a couple of holes bored in him, and I got a piece or so
in the face which has made me feel rather as if I had been
in a prize fight. My Subaltern has been sent home, but
I shall be all right, I hope, in a day or two. At Fromelles I got
a bullet through my hat, and it just touched my head as it
went through, so I can't have anything much nearer.
Where is Kitchener's Army ? We never seem to have more
than a handful of men to do anything. They seem to dis-
appear directly any German fires a shot at them.'
On May 20th a War Office telegram was received, con-
taining the single word ' Wounded.'
Referring to the attack on the Aubers Ridge May 9, 1915,
the correspondent already quoted wrote : ' The attack was
to be made from S.W. by two Indian Divisions and from
the N.W. by the 7th and 8th Divisions, while the 6th
Division was pushed forward to be ready if the attack
' Instructions had been given in anticipation of any mis-
understandings that might tend to another fiasco like the
Battle of Neuve Chapelle. The Order of the Day asked the
troops to " break a hole in the enemy's lines." '
Later, the same correspondent wrote : ' Early hi the
morning word had come that the 8th Division had made a
splendid beginning, but later in the afternoon we heard
that the other Division had been held up by machine-
gun fire and had made no progress. On the llth G.H.Q.
remarked laconically that there was " nothing to report
from the First Army Front." So the big attack of which my
gunner friends along the Fromelles Road had such high
hopes fizzled out.'
1 35ra BATTEBY R.F.A., May 28, 1916.
* I am back at duty now, fit and well, except for my
jaw, which does not admit of the maximum limit at present,
but that is only stiffness and will wear off. We are now
out of action for the moment in reserve between Cheques
and Villers, and it is very pleasant, in a way, to see green
fields and farms after the ruins we have been living in,
106 A MEMOIR OF
but we don't seem to be getting on much. I forgot to tell
you how useful the sleeping tent has been (see ante, 14/2/15),
and with the air mattress I had bought for it I was pretty
' BOTH BATTERY R.F.A., June 6, 1915.
* We are now back in action near Festubert again and
having ideal weather, though I 'm afraid we shan't do much.
We are too short of ammunition to keep it up.'
' SOTH BATTEBY R.F.A., June 14, 1915.
* The Major of the 31st is a splendid pianist, and I 've
got a very fine piano. We shall be making another push,
I hope, within 48 hours, if the ammunition arrives.'
During this period the question of distribution of honours
was much discussed, and the proportion that had been
allotted to Staff Officers, many of whom had never been
nearer the fighting line than G.H.Q., was very severely
canvassed both in letters from Regimental Officers and in
the newspapers. The D.S.O. was instituted for the express
purpose of rewarding distinguished conduct at the Front
or in presence of the enemy, and its award to men who had
never been near the Front caused widespread discontent
among Regimental Officers, and examples were freely
discussed not only in the Press but in general society.
Some newspapers and extracts bearing on this subject were
sent to Major Steel and elicited the following remarks :
' 35rn BATTERY R.F.A., June 27, 1915.
* It is too sickening to see D.S.O. given to people who
have never been out of an office . I haven't met a Regimental
Officer who isn't disgusted. If we don't do something
soon I shall be quite ashamed of calling myself a soldier.
A Special Report went in by my Colonel after the Festubert
operations, but I don't suppose I shall get anything more.
The British Army is now in a state of chaos. Entire re-
organisation. So don't put Division or Corps any more.
* We have just moved again. New targets and country,
and more Observation Stations to make. The country
EDWARD ANTHONY STEEL 107
now is s wanning with flies and mosquitoes, making every-
thing unpleasant. I am not expecting the war to begin
seriously till next April. I don't know at all when I shall
be coming home I am ready now, for I can't see any
prospect of an advance.'
' 35-ra BATTERY R.F.A., July 16, 1915.
' I am expecting to be relieved soon, so may be home at
the end of the month. The Major of 31st is also coming
home, so there will be none left who started in this Brigade.'
' 35TH BATTERY R.F.A., July 28, 1915.
' . . . During this inactivity we have managed to give a
few concerts, the 37th Brigade Pierrot Troupe ending up
with a full house in the theatre at Bethune. We arrived
in a motor bus, and a shell at once broke two windows of
it when we 'd got out. The four ladies in our troupe were
still quaking with fear in the cellar when the time bell went,
and had to be hauled out, though a bit pale, and soon forgot
all about it. They have since all handed in their resignations
and costumes, and refuse to act any more within range of
the gunners. It was a first-class show, and I have got back
all the 20 the original outlay of costumes, etc.'
37ra BRIGADE R.F.A. PIERROTS, SOMEWHERE IN
Price, 20 Centimes.
At 8.45 the Curtain Rises
(without the aid of BAKING POWDER)
Accompanist > . . MAJOR M. HARTLAND-MAHON, R.F.A.
1. The Inevitable Opening Chorus (' Lindy Loo ') . EVERY ONB,
2. Song . . ' Ragtime Goblin Man ' . SERGT. HAKNA.
3. Song . . . ' My Old Shako ' . . SERGT. STUTTLE.
4. Comic . Selected ' . . DRIVER GARLAND.
. ' Le Credo du Paysan ' . -I MLLE. J. BRAS.
I MLLE. J. THEHY.
108 A MEMOIR OF
6. Song . . . ' My Orange Girl ' . . SEEGT. RIDGERS.
1. Comic . . . 'Selected' - ... MAJOR STEEL.
Interval 10 Minutes.
8. Another Opening Chorus . . . . . EVERY ONE.
(For no Reason at all)
' Mother's sitting knitting Mittens '
9. Song . . ' All Aboard for Dixie Land ' . SERGT. HANNA.
10. Song . . 'I hear you calling me ' . SERGT. PUZEY.
11. Comic . . ' Selected ' . MAJOR STEEL.
12. Song . . ' Everybody 's in Slumberland ' . SERGT. RIDGERS.
13. Song . . 'I want to go to India ' . SERGT. STTJTTLE.
14. Comic ' Selected ' _ ' . DRIVER GARLAND.
' I want to be in Dixie '
MARSEILLAISE. GOD SAVE THE KING.
At ten THE CURTAIN FALLS beating
THE VICTORIA FALLS
' August 5, 1915.
' No sign of my relief. In fact, he seems to have got
lost so I don't know when I shall get home. I am going
to " Aire " to do gunnery instructor to some class of three-
pounder guns on armoured cars for a short time.'
' August 15, 1915.
' The school at Aire, of which I am in charge, has been
extended to August 20. I don't quite know what will
happen. I may get called for another job ; if so, I shall try
and get a week's leave. I hope the summer will not be over.
I have to write several reports.'
'August 21, 1915.
* I am leaving Aire to-morrow for my Battery, which is
near Festubert, and I may get away about the 25th or 28th
I hope. The boats are not crossing, I hear, for a few days
owing to submarines. However, I believe I arrive in
London about 4 P.M.'
At the close of this, the first period of service, it may be
convenient to summarise a few points that emerge from
GROUP OF OFFICERS 35x11 BATTERY, AUGUST 1915.
Standing Lieut. Cator, Lieut. Scott.
Sitting Lieut. Reynolds, Maj. E. A. Steel, Capt. Agnew.
GROUP OF 'No. i's' OF GUNS AND BATTERY ARTIFICER, MAY 1915.
Facing p. \
EDWARD ANTHONY STEEL 109
these extracts so far as they contain matter for history,
coming as they do from a man of wide experience and,
generally speaking, sound judgment ; and perhaps they are
more important because Major Steel was fully aware of the
value of Infantry, and held strong views as to the assistance
they should receive from the Artillery, and how each branch
was inter-dependent on the other, and should keep in touch
so as to assist each other in every possible way.
While on the Aisne during October and November 1914
he had ample opportunity of observing the conduct of the
Infantry, and his unstinted praises of their methods of
attack showed that he had taken advantage of his oppor-
tunities, and that his opinion was the result of his own
observation. It deserves to be repeated : * Our own In-
fantry are first class. . . . Some Regiments are nearly all
reservists now, but their excellent system of training soon
polishes up the ignorant, and the " shikar " spirit which is
inculcated in their attack methods is a fine sight.'
Passing on to the affair of Neuve Chapelle, it will be ob-
served that his report coincides with that of the corre-
spondent quoted as to the delay in bringing up the supports
until the evening, and consequently giving the Germans
time to bring up strong forces and cause the initial success
to become a disaster. (See Staff, p. 110.)
Again at Festubert (p. 104), when he was in an equally
good position to judge, his opinion seems to indicate that
the Infantry on that occasion were, as a mobile force, un-
doubtedly in a different class from those of the old Expedi-
tionary Force on the Aisne. This would cause no surprise
but for the fact that there was a conspiracy in all the
daily journals of the time, to refrain from extolling deeds
of valour of individuals or regiments, 1 while represent-
ing as victories what were in truth disasters. The men
were splendid, indeed the flower of our manhood, but they
lacked at that time the training in combined movements
1 There was one exception to this a periodical started by Mr. T. P.
O'Connor entitled Great Deeds, whose publication cea o ed through lack of
110 A MEMOIR OF
which alone could give them confidence in their leaders.
Now that history is being written, it may be hoped that
the truth will be told, and indeed it is being told (see
Realities of War, by Philip Gibbs, 1 p. 66). When the new
Army first came out to learn their lesson in the trenches in
the long days before open warfare, the enemy had the best
of it in every way, and it may be elicited that both leaders
and led suffered from similar causes, and the confidence
described by General French in his first despatch had
not been kept up to the same high standard. This has
been repeatedly observed by our enemy commander, and it
may now be admitted that during 1915 our newly trained
battalions, when confronted with the highly trained and
frequently more numerous forces of the enemy, did not
develop the powers of attack that our panegyrists depicted.
Major Steel devoted much of his attention to the matter of
Observing Stations, to which he attached special importance,
and for which his previous experience had especially fitted
him ; and though some may have thought that he was
incurring unnecessary risk, others, and among them his
superiors, realised the advantages.
General Holland writes : ' I am convinced that our
Artillery will do no good until we get Battery Commanders
well forward in all these attacks.'
See also Ludendorff, i. 273 : 'The decisive value of Artillery
observation and the consequent necessity of paying great
attention to the situation of position had also become
As to the Staff, the original Expeditionary Force had
no doubt been equipped with a highly trained Staff, as
efficient as mere peace-training could make it, but as
Divisions multiplied and fresh Army Corps came into
existence, the provision of Staff Officers became a serious
question. The correspondent already quoted, referring to
the disaster of Neuve Chapelle (see p. 100), writes : ' No
battle of such magnitude could be won without fine Staff
1 Now Sir Philip Gibbs, K.B.E.
EDWARD ANTHONY STEEL 111
work, and the work of more than one Staff on that 10th
March left much to be desired.'
' And again, when the immensity of casualties among
British troops,' writes Philip Gibbs, ' was out of all pro-
portion to their gains of ground, our men's spirits revolted
against these massacres of their youth, and they were
embittered against the generalship and Staff work which
directed these sacrificial actions ' (Realities of War, p. 35).
' This sense became intense to the point of fury, so that a
young Staff Officer in his red tabs with a jaunty manner was
like a red rag to a bull among battalions of officers and men '
And again, referring to the Battle of Flanders : ' I found
a general opinion among officers and men . . . that they
had been the victims of atrocious Staff work, tragic in
its consequences. . . . ' (p. 389).
In the two cases alluded to, viz. Neuve Chapelle and
Festubert, 1915, Major Steel formed the opinion that after
the failure of the initial attack in both cases all that followed
was useless slaughter.
And he was not alone in that opinion, for since then
the following has been written : ' The battles of Neuve
Chapelle, Festubert, and Loos, 1915, cost us thousands
of casualties, and gave us no gain of any account, and
both generalship and Staff work were, in the opinion of
most officers who know anything of those battles, ghastly '
(Realities of War, p. 36).
And indeed it was an open secret that instead of selecting
Staff Officers for qualities denoting efficiency, they were too
frequently selected for other and totally different reasons.
Major Steel had qualifications for a Staff Officer second to
none. I believe his name was sent up in response to a spas-
modic effort to wipe out the character of imbecility that
was becoming associated with the brass hat. Those inter-
ested in such researches may discover in these few lines why
he was not selected.
With regard to the distribution of honours (p. 106), Major
Steel merely echoes what has been said wherever fighting
112 A MEMOIR OF
men congregated throughout the war. We can all remember
the shock we experienced at the huge list of Staff Officers
that headed our first despatches before we came to the
The D.S.O. was a prized decoration. The Statutes of
the Order define the conditions on which it was intended
to be bestowed, and it is common knowledge that the dis-
tinction has lost much of its value. Nobody, least of all a
soldier, would grudge an adequate reward being given to
non-combatants or Staff Officers whose duties may confine
them to G. or other H.Q. ; but surely it is unreasonable to
do so at the expense of the man who risks his life ; and this
is actually what happens when so many members are intro-
duced into an Order intended strictly for combatants.
' I know an Officer,' writes Gibbs, ' who was awarded the
D.S.O. because he had hindered the work of industrious
men with the zeal of a hedge sparrow in search of worms.
And another, etc. . . .' (Realities of War, p. 26).
The objection is not met by calling the writer a disgruntled
war correspondent, because cases of this distinction formed
the topic of conversation in every mess-room. Eventually
this came to be recognised, but the amendment when
it came, in August 1918, came too late.
In this respect it would seem that our enemy suffered
from the same cause (Ludendorff, i. 262) : ' I should like to
have seen at the head of the Military Cabinet men who had
real personal experience of the fighting, so that we could
rely on them to do justice to the Corps of Officers. As
it was, this body worked too closely on its peace-time
routine and did not bring strong character to the front.'
I have already quoted Gen. Holland as to the question
of Battery Commanders, and I wrote asking him if he had
any objection to my making use of it. He writes : ' I had very
great admiration for your son, he was a man of enormous
energy and enthusiasm, and what is more, having no great
love for beaten tracks, progressed on original lines ; it was
this trait in his character that attracted me so forcibly,
EDWARD ANTHONY STEEL 113
together with the knowledge which grew as I came to know
him, of what a loyal nature he had.'
See my note on Staff , p . 1 1 . Gen . Holland has touched the
spot . In a world where , as Swift said , ' climbing and crawling
were performed in much the same attitude,' it may be that
one of independent judgment was not required at G.H.Q.
Leaving the foregoing digressions, I return more parti-
cularly to the character of the subject of this Memoir as
portrayed during war by his comrades, senior and junior.
Lt.-Gen. Holland, commanding Infantry Corps, wrote :
' Lt.-Col. E. A. Steel, R.F.A., served under me in France
as a Battery Commander. I saw a good deal of this officer,
and have the very highest opinion of him. He has great
ability, and this, backed by untiring energy, foresight, and
courage, rendered him a most valuable Commander. He
is intensely loyal, and nothing is too much trouble or too
difficult for him to carry out the wishes of Superior Officers.'
Lt.-Col. M. Hartland-Mahon wrote :
'R.A. MESS, COLCHESTER,
' January 23, 1920.
' . . . The period during which I was most closely associated
with your son was from October 1914 to August 1915, when
I came home to train a new Battery. We were in many a
show together. Your son was one of the most remarkable
men I ever met. He had a perfect genius for discovering
O.P.'s and constructing them, and he was never satisfied
till he could get bang up to really within a few yards of the
enemy's front trench. Two of his O.P.'s, one the " barrel
house " on Hill 63 near Ploegsteert, the other his tree near
Festubert, were marvels of ingenuity and were quite cele-
brated ; there were many others.
' He performed countless feats of the utmost value and
importance to the Infantry, whom he always tried, and
successfully, to help to the utmost of his power. His
main amusement when not doing a shoot from some O.P.
114 A MEMOIR OF
which most of us trembled to go near was wandering round
the front line of trenches. His bravery was proverbial
and almost amounted to recklessness.
' He was idolised by his own men, as well as by those
outside his Battery to whom he was equally well known.
While in the 37th Brigade (during the above period)
he organised a Brigade Pierrot Troupe of which I was a
member. He was the life and soul of it ; he was equally
good with the banjo or singing or reciting. I could tell
one or two good stories about our performances, but I fear
I have trespassed too long on your patience.
' But I shall be most interested and delighted to have
any details of his career which you may care to send me,
as you so kindly offered to do. He was a most fasci-
nating personality, and any account of his career cannot
fail to be of absorbing interest. Again assuring you of my
Brig. -Gen. Spedding wrote :
' BERLIN, May 31, 1920.
' MY DEAR COLONEL, I was very grieved to hear of your
son's death in Siberia ; he was under my command in France
in 1914-1915, and I certainly never had a more gallant hard-
working officer. His nerves were of iron. He was with me
in many fights, and I could give you many accounts of his
doings. One will perhaps suffice for the present. In the
attack at Festubert in June 1915 he was observing for his
Battery in a very well-known exposed Observation Post
called " The Brewery." He was twice wounded in the
day, and his Subaltern who was with him came down
wounded late in the day to say his Major was still there
wounded and would not come away. When fetched away
he was found attending to his two telephonists, who had
just been killed. Trees were his great speciality as Observa-
tion Posts ; he used to half -cut through two or three trees
and lay them together and erect his Observation Post at
the top of a series of three ladders. Some day I shall hope
to come and see you and tell you more about him.
EDWARD ANTHONY STEEL 115
' At Neuve Chapelle he was through the village with the
first Infantry with his wires and telephonists. He is a
great loss to the Regiment.'
Lt.-Col. J. Ramsden wrote :
' Your son and I served together in L Battery R.H.A. for
some years in India. Although we never met again I was
able to follow his work in Africa, and I well remember
the tree at Festubert where he continued to command his
Battery after the ladder by which he communicated with
the ground had been cut away by shell-fire. He has died
in harness the death of the true knight in the King's service,
sans peur et sans reproche.'
Colonel G. Mair wrote :
' I hope you will allow me to offer you my deepest
sympathy on the loss of your son, which I was so sorry to
read about. He was a great loss not only to the Royal
Regiment but to the Army generally, and it seemed very
hard, after going through the war in France, to have died
in Russia. I just missed seeing him in France, once when
he was commanding a Battery on the Somme in Sept.
1916, and later when he was in command of a Brigade.'
Return to England Training New Artillery Return to France,
April 1916 Dangerously Wounded on Somme, September 15
King Edward vn. Hospital Convalescent Lecture to Royal Geo-
graphical Society Reported Fit for Light Duty, April 1918.
IN October 1915 Major Steel and several other officers of
similar standing and special qualifications were ordered
home for the purpose of training the new Batteries that
had been recently recruited.
These Batteries, of which the men were keen and interested
in their work, were brigaded at Tidworth Camp in Sep-
tember, and October onwards near Codford, where, with the
exception of a course of gun-firing on Salisbury Plain and
another course at Lydd, they remained through the winter of
1915, and in February 1916 they were ordered to France.
The training of these men was of exceptional interest.
I am sorry that I have not been able to collect more infor-
mation as to their several trades and occupations before
enlistment. Major Steel found them extraordinarily keen
and anxious to learn their work, and that they took full
advantage of their training is fully borne out by the good
work they did in France.
Major Steel's remark in his letter of July 4, 1916, when,
after recounting the disadvantages of their position, he said,
' However, a good Battery makes up for a lot,' shows what
he thought of them ; and whenever we met during the
training he frequently commented on the keenness of the
When on the point of leaving, early in February, he went
to Yorkshire to say ' Good-bye ' to the family of Sir John
Barran ; while on the road a Zeppelin attack occurred, and
his train was held up at a siding all night. He returned
with a feverish cold, and his doctor refused to let him go
A MEMOIR OF EDWARD ANTHONY STEEL 117
with the Battery, which went without him under the com-
mand of Lt. S. Colling wood on February 17.
This Battery of 182nd Brigade R.F.A. was formed and re-
cruited at Hurlingham , H.Q. being at Fulham Town Hall. The
Brigade Commander was Col. Shortt (a retired R.A. Captain),
and Sir Henry Norris, the then Mayor, raised the Brigade. 1
The horses were stabled in the polo stables, the men being
billeted in the neighbourhood, as far as possible in their
Their first Divisional Commander was General Sir
Lawrence Parsons, retired, and their Divisional Artillery
Commander Brig.-Gen. Duffus.
From Fulham they went to Deep Cut* where Major Steel
took over command of the Battery, and from there to
'BOYTON, October 11, 1915.
' We march to-morrow to huts at Gorton, near War-
minster, Wilts. My address will be 182nd Brigade, Gorton,
Upton Lovell, Wilts ; Railway Station, Codford.'
' 182ND BEIOADE, December 18, 1916.
' We go to shoot on the Plain, January 5.'
' January 17, 1916.
'We got back from Salisbury Plain last Friday, where
we did not do very well. But considering they have only
had about a month's real training it wasn't too bad.'
The Battery remained at Borden till February 17.
I am indebted to Lt. Allen J. Perry 8 for the following
1 This was one of three Brigades raised by Sir Henry Norris, now M.P.,
viz. the 177th, 182nd, and 187th ; all rendered wonderful service in France.
2 Lt. Allen J. Perry joined the Royal Regiment of Artillery at the age
of 14 years 3 months. Saw service for two years in the South African
campaign with the 82nd and 67th Batteries, Private. From there to India
for four and a half years. Left with the 109th Battery 3rd Division for
France as Sergeant. August 1914, at Mons. Commissioned when Battery
118 A MEMOIR OF
account of this Battery between February 17 and
' Major Steel having fallen sick, the Battery, now
called B/182, under the temporary command of Lt. S.
Collingwood, R.G.A., left for France via Southampton on
February 17, 1916.
' After a month or so spent in the vicinity of Witterness
to accustom the troops to billeting conditions, etc., we
moved forward to the " back areas " of the Loos salient.
' From here we sent detachments at a time for a few days'
attachment to both the 12th and 15th Divisional Artillery
to get them used to the battle -zone and all its conditions,
and to familiarise us all with that portion of the line which
we eventually took over.
* On entering the line in relief of the 12th Divisional Ar-
tillery, B/182nd (Fulham) Bde. R.F.A. took over the duties
of counter-battery work, for which purpose we were at-
tached to the R.G.A. group, which was in command of
Lt.-Col. Metcalfe, R.G.A. , and it was while there that Major
Steel rejoined and resumed command.'
' BASE, April 8, 1916.
* I arrived here yesterday morning after an unpleasant
passage. Went out to the R.F.A. camp, several miles out
of the town, where everything is much changed for the
better since August 1914. I am leaving to-night to join
my old lot from Borden.'
' En route, ABBEVILLE, April 1916.
' There have been great changes since I left. Batteries
and Brigades all changed, and I am on my way to the
Somme. Will let you know later what has happened to my
Sergt. -Major in June, and sent home to Fulham, where he equipped and
trained B/182, handing over to Major Steel on completion. Became
Acting-Major, and commanded A/180 at Somme, 191 fl. Mentioned three
times and M.C.
EDWARD ANTHONY STEEL 119
'April 11, 1916.
' I am off this morning to join the Battery (B) near
Lt. Perry has given me the following interesting account
of what happened after that date :
' Our O.P. at that time was named " Bunny Hutch," and
it certainly was not much larger than such.
' Our first experience of the Germans' aggressive stunts
was an exceedingly unpleasant one.
' On this occasion I was forward observing officer. On
April 27, 1916, just before dawn, I took up my post at the
forward O.P. (Observing Post). I had scarcely arrived
when I tasted in the air that which reminded me of the
Germans' first gas attack at Ypres in 1915.
' I was unable to see anything, dawn not having broken,
so I took the immediate precaution to buzz back on the
'phone " S.O.S. Gas ! "
' This arrived at the Battery end all right, and in the
shortest of time not only my own but every Battery in the
Division had opened up.
' The execution was such that it broke up an undoubted
enemy attack, the barrage being such that the Hun could
not get through, and it was fortunately so, for his gas had
played a ghastly game amongst our Infantry in the line,
one battalion alone (The Inniskilling Fusiliers) suffering, I
believe, 700 casualties.
' The following day was perfectly quiet, scarcely a shot
being fired by either side. Undoubtedly the Hun was
occupied in like manner as we ourselves, i.e. burying dead
and reconstructing defences.
' I was liaison officer with the Infantry in the line on the
night of the 28th. Just before dawn, on the morning of
29th, I was again on my way to the O.P., where I was to
remain till Collingwood relieved me after breakfast. I had
arrived to within about 100 yards of the O.P. when the
Germans put down a terrific barrage.
' It was Divine Providence alone that enabled me to get
120 A MEMOIR OF
through the curtain of bursting shells without coming to
any harm and to gain the shelter of the O.P. where, on
looking out into the grey dawn, I saw a thick low-lying
green cloud coming rolling towards our lines. A second
gas attack was being launched. Once again I was able
to get a message back to the Battery " S.O.S. Gas ! "
and only just in time, for a shell immediately afterwards
cut my communication wires.
' Soon the whole of our Artillery were on the spot, and
masters of the situation, for other observing officers had
also " spotted " and reported.
* This time the gas did not reach our lines, for again the
Divine Hand manifested itself, for as the cloud reached
about half-way over " No Man's Land " it stood still for a
second or so, and then commenced to roll back again, en-
trapping the enemy in his own net, the wind having changed
completely round. When all was quiet again and daylight
arrived the grass could be seen to have bleached in the
track of the gas cloud, half-way across No Man's Land and
then back again over the enemy's front, support, and rear
trenches, and then some distance up the hill behind them.
' The promptitude and execution of our Artillery on
this our first practical demonstration of covering our own
Divisional Infantry gave to the latter an impression of
confidence and comradeship which established itself and
remained till the closing of hostilities.'
' B/182ND BRIGADE R.F.A., April 24, 1916.
' This is the second place I have been in, and I suppose
as soon as we 've got this in some shape we shall move along
again. This is the worst part of the line we 've been in,
from every point of view. We get it on all three sides ;
as soon as we make one room secure a shell comes and wrecks
everything. We have taken it over in a hopeless state,
and in about a month's time it may be something like a
Battery. During daylight the Battery is shut off almost
from communication, except telephone ! I am beginning
to suffer from insomnia, I think. All huddled together like
EDWARD ANTHONY STEEL 121
this in cellars. Calls from the telephone through the night
and alarms . One never gets any fresh food here at all except
ration meat, as it is too far to send into Bethune, and there
is nothing but mines in all this area. It has rained nearly
every day up till to-day, and blown hard, so it 's impossible
to keep warm. There is no wood left even in the summer
houses ! I have been very fit so far, however. I get to sleep
about 6 A.M., and soon after that the Germans always send
over their morning bouquets of " crumps," which shake the
whole place, and as soon as the plaster comes down on top
of me I think it 's time to get up. I have not seen a news-
paper for six days now.'
' B/182ND BRIGADE R.F.A., May 5, 1918.
' Since my last we have been through two gas attacks,
and many casualties have resulted. The " weeping "
shells, too, with which the Battery was plastered, were a
great trial. However, the men did splendidly, and the
shooting was excellent. We had a direct hit in one of our
gunpits, but only the gun was knocked out. It has been
perfect weather, and we have been able to get through a
lot of work and make these mines a bit safer ! I haven't
had time to go down to my waggon line since arrival in the
country. Horrible part of the line is this. The time seems
to pass quickly. We haven't had an undisturbed night for
a long time now always gas alarms, attacks, attacks, etc.,
and it all results in nothing but tiring everybody out. Other-
wise no news. I 'm afraid we shall be out of any attack in
this salient, but are always being attacked on three sides.
The newspapers are pretty interesting these days.'
' B/182ND BRIGADE R.F.A., May 11, 1916.
' Last night we had a terrific bombardment all about
nothing and as usual our corner was plastered, and I can
hardly open my eyes. It 's perfectly disgusting, these
asphyxiating and weeping shells. We are moving again in
a few days to an impossible position out in the open, into
122 A MEMOIR OF
some derelict gunpits. I expect it will take three weeks to
a month to put them right.'
' The months of June and July,' wrote Lt. Perry, ' were
spent very happily in the " Lone House Position," which
we built ourselves, and at which Major Steel had worked
' In building a gun position he not only thought of the
strength and concealment of the position, but gave marked
attention to the construction, for the safety and comfort
of his men ; neither did he give instructions and leave the
work for others to do, but laboured with his own hands, and
that not spasmodically, but all and every day when he was
not forced to be somewhere else.
' This position, known as the " Lone House " position,
behind Fosse 7 at Loos was second to none.
' To this position came Staff Officers from all directions,
and Major Steel was asked to submit to H.Q. a plan of the
' Eventually one of the pits was put to a very severe test,
it receiving two direct hits from a 5-inch (or thereabout)
armour-piercing. The first left little impression other than
a weakening of the pit, which was then unable to stand
against the second.
' The first gave warning to the detachment, who cleared,
so by the time the second arrived, which destroyed the gun,
no men were there (the Battery was not in action at the time).
' In this same position Major Steel had a miniature
theatre built, stage and all complete, and then hired a piano
from Bethune and placed it in it. This was an integral part
of the position, and one did not have to go out in the open
whether to go to theatre, gunpit, men's " dug-outs," canteen,
or any other necessity. All was underground, and shrapnel
' The telephone systems of that position would also not
take second place. It was as perfect as could be under
existing circumstances, and every item of it was constructed
and maintained by your son personally.
EDWARD ANTHONY STEEL 123
' His Battery just loved him, and all recognised him to
be a fighter, one who was out to win, never showing the
slightest sign of fear, yet took the greatest care to protect
and conceal his Battery. We three subalterns were very
happy with him. They with me could not be more happy
under anybody than we were with Major Steel. Though
kept hard at it, and at times under very trying circum-
stances, never can I remember one moment when he was not
just all out to do his job, and that right cheerily.
' Though we all, officers and men, were kept " up to the
scratch," we were a very happy Battery, and regretted
exceedingly when re -organisation took place which meant
the disbanding of what we esteemed the best Battery of
' B/182ND BRIGADE R.F.A., July 4, 1916.
' It seems ages since I have written. We have been
making a new position for the Battery, as well as our daily
and nightly work. I have never a minute. The time seems
to go very quickly, and I am very fit. I have noted re
Graham Leadam. One hardly ever sees any one these days
of dug-outs and communication trenches. I have had most
of my kit ruined by a shell coming into my dug-out when
I was not there. Everything has a mark of some kind on it,
or perforated in many places. My air mattress punctured.
We have an awfully good position now quite clean. A
nice cellar to feed in, but a rotten part of the line. How-
ever, a good Battery makes up for a lot.'
1 B/182ND BRIGADE R.F.A., July 14, 1916.
' I think I must have my Banjo. Could you have it
packed in wooden case, and despatched clearly addressed
via Military Forwarding Officer, Southampton. Things
are arriving pretty well by that route now, and I 've got a
piano up from Bethune, which lives under about 6 feet of
concrete and iron, and relieves everybody's nerves at times.'
' B/182ND BRIGADE R.F.A., August 1916.
' I am writing this in bed at Bethune Hospital. I had to
come in at last after some weeks of not feeling up to the
124 A MEMOIR OF
mark, and eventually could not move about. Sort of
rheumatic fever, but they don't seem to quite know. I shall
not be going to base or home, and expect to be back in the
Battery in a week's time. I took most of my music with
me, but the rest you have found will all be welcome.'
At the end of August he had ten days' leave, and August 26
saw the end of B/ 182nd (Fulham) Brigade, for on the re-
organisation of the Artillery from the 4-gun Batteries to
6 guns each the 182nd Brigade was disbanded and absorbed
into the three remaining Brigades of the Division. Lt.
Perry was posted as second in command of A/180, while
Major Steel on his rejoining from England assumed com-
mand of B/177.
'September 12, 1916.
' I am now B/177. We are bang in the middle of it, so
you may not hear for some days. No doubt you saw how
our crowd took Guinchy. Every one living out in the open,
just like Aug. and Sept. 1914, but shelling night and day.'
September 15 was the actual date of Major Steel being
knocked out. In his recent book, Realities of War, Mr.
Gibbs writes : * On September 15 the German Command
had another shock, when the whole line of the British troops
on the Somme Front south of the Ancre rose out of their
trenches and swept over the German defences in a tide.'
In a previous work by the same author, The Battles
of the Somme, the various attacks were described in detail,
and probably with insufficient knowledge for their descrip-
tion. However that may be, Major Steel, on being asked
whether those descriptions gave any accurate impression of
the occurrence of that day so far as his observation ex-
tended, expressed the opinion that they did not, so it may be
that the recent description may on the whole be considered
as the more accurate. An inquiry as to how Major Steel
was wounded elicited the fact that he had gone on with the
Infantry in order to keep in touch with them and prevent
any such contretemps as already referred to resulting from
the ' barrage,' and also to select, if possible, an observing
EDWARD ANTHONY STEEL 125
station in an advanced post where he could render them
assistance if required. Readers of this Memoir will observe
that this was in accordance with his action on previous
The first report, about September 16, 1916, of Major
Steel having been wounded was a postcard received from
Sister W. Tice, i/c : ' Major E. A. Steel has been wounded
in the chest and shoulders and is extremely ill. The
surgeons are doing all they can, but are very anxious about
his condition in the next few days. He is not strong
enough to be sent to the base yet, but is still at the 2/2nd
September 22, from the same : ' Major E. A. Steel has just
left for the base. He is stronger than when brought in.'
He arrived at No. 8 General Hospital, Rouen, on
September 20, and Mr. Newland, writing from there, said
Major Steel hoped to be able to move in a few days, and
that there was every hope that his arm would be saved.
Meanwhile a telegram received from the War Office said :
' Major Steel admitted to 8 General Hospital, Rouen,
September 20, with gun-shot wound right arm slight.'
The only effect caused by the discrepancy in these accounts
was wonder how these reports were compiled.
Meanwhile, Major Steel wrote a few lines with his left
hand, and expressed a wish that if accommodation could
be found for him he would like to be taken to Sister Agnes
at 9 Grosvenor Gardens ; and so by the combined efforts
of Sister Agnes, his mother, and the Medical Officer at the
Front, he was conveyed to 9 Grosvenor Gardens. Arrived
there, it soon became evident that so far from being slight
his wounds were serious. True, his arm might be saved,
but never to be a sound arm, and the wound in his chest
turned out to be a penetration of the lung by a splinter
which caused an abscess, and for long defied treatment, until
under an operation a splinter was extracted.
However, more cases arrived and he was removed to
Belgrave Square, the abode of Lord Aberconway, which
had been given up as an annexe to the King Edward vn.
126 A MEMOIR OF
Hospital by its noble owner, and in March 1917 Major Steel
was considered sufficiently recovered to be moved to No.
129 Convalescent Hospital, Brighton.
In June 1917 Major Steel read a paper before the Royal
Geographical Society on the subject of the Zambezi-Congo
watershed. The President, Col. Holdich, in introducing
the reader of the paper, said : ' Major Steel has had a long
experience of survey in Africa, and is one of those travellers
who take an interest not only in his official work but in
many forms of inquiry into the history of the country and
the habits and customs of the people. At the outbreak
of the war the work of the Commission very abruptly
terminated, and Major Steel, having been recalled to service,
was after many months in France severely wounded at the
Battle of the Somme. We are fortunate that his recovery
has so far progressed that he is able now to give us this
paper in the intervals of successive operations.'
Major Steel then gave a resume not only of the details
and difficulties encountered by the Commission 1 (to be
found in a separate Chapter), but also an interesting account
of the manners and customs of the people ; he also initiated
a discussion on the various projects for the transport of
mineral wealth out of the country in the following words :
' In some maps of Africa you will find a line marking, so
the reference tells you, the proposed route of the Cape to
Cairo Railway from Broken Hill to Tanganyika. This was
one of the life objects of the late Cecil Rhodes, whose name
is written in large letters throughout so much of the African
continent. But those who first drew this line across the
map had no idea of the sort of country to be traversed or
the difficulties to be faced ; and I think the original route
from Broken Hill via Serenje, Mpika, Kasama must be rele-
gated to the limbo of forgotten things. I think it will be a
long time before the vast region of North -Eastern Rhodesia
1 Especially those of transport.
EDWARD ANTHONY STEEL 127
will be of any commercial value, or will enter into the
economic scheme its discoverers imagined. Owing to the
discovery of the great Katanga copper belt the railway was
extended from Broken Hill to Sakania on the Congo border,
for which an easy route was available along the Kafue-
Lusenfwa watershed. This line joins with the " Chemin de
Fer du Katanga " system to Elizabeth ville. The line on to
Kambove was completed in 1913, opening up some of the
richest copper mines in the world, and in a few months
Bukama on the Lualaba will be joined to Cape Town, a
distance of 2600 miles, and will open up the rich tin deposits
He then passed in review the various outlets to the
ports on the east and west, as to the latter of which he
had acquired many interesting details, and compared
those of Cape Town, Lobito Bay, and Beira. It will be
observed that he was so impressed with the mineral wealth
of the Katanga district that he considered it as a factor
that could not be disregarded in any complete scheme of
' There is no doubt,' said he, ' that Africa's economical
salvation can only be brought about by the development
of transport facilities, thereby releasing the natives from
the work of carrying loads,' and as railways must have
something to live upon they should not be constructed
through districts which had neither mineral wealth, popula-
tion, nor agricultural produce, none of which was to be
found in N.E. Rhodesia. These views, perfectly sound
and generally acceptable to a body of city men looking for
promising schemes for investment or prospecting, were
much too detached for a purely British and South African
audience, most of whom had gone through years of harassing
war, while to a Rhodesian they must have appeared rank
heresy ; and even assembled as they were mainly for
the purpose of congratulating Major Steel on his work,
it soon became evident through a most interesting discussion
which ensued that sentiment is a powerful factor in the
128 A MEMOIR OF
affairs of South Africa, and that no mere commercial
objections will ever eclipse the desire for a Cape to Cairo
Lane, ' all British,' the dream of Cecil Rhodes whose name
was * written so large over South Africa.' Sir Richard
Birchenough, while expressing on behalf of the Administra-
tion their appreciation of the work Major Steel had done
for them and the extent to which they had been fascinated
by the account he had given of his labours, pointed out
that the territory in which Major Steel passed a solitary
existence had since the war, and in consequence of it,
become a hive of activity ; that the enormous and un-
developed portion of N.E. Rhodesia, which some years
before had been regarded as negligible from an economic
point of view, had in order to forward supplies to General
Northey's Column in East Africa become a practical
thoroughfare, partly by water through the swamps of Lake
Bangweulu and partly by motor road, in the direction
necessary to carry out the original scheme of railway ; and
though it might take years to accomplish, his audience
might rest assured that Rhodesia, the pioneer of railway
work in South Africa, would do everything in its power to
complete the great ideal of its founder, Mr. Rhodes.
Mr. Wilson Fox, M.P., touched the same note. He said
that although the construction of the railway might have
to depend in the future on commercial and financial con-
siderations, nevertheless he was still hopeful that in the
days to come we should see it approximate to the route
originally traced by Mr. Rhodes he had seen him do it
in the Chartered Company's Board Room : and even the
President, obviously in sympathy with Major Steel and his
work, could scarcely resist the appeal to an ' All British
The discussion was of absorbing interest not only to those
who heard it but to those who have had an opportunity
of reading it. It has since been followed by others of a
more technical description, but it may be conjectured that
this contribution will be long remembered and recalled
with regret now that the voice of the originator is silent.
EDWARD ANTHONY STEEL 129
Since the foregoing was written an article has appeared
in the Empire Number of The Times of May 25, 1920, from
the pen of Lt.-Col. Solomon, which, if it fairly represents
the present condition of N.E. Rhodesia, rather encourages
the supposition that the judgment of Major Steel may be
more sound than the optimism of the Rhodes ians.
Once upon a time it was considered that the Tanganyika
Plateau, which forms the connecting link between Lakes Nyassa
and Tanganyika, would become a valuable highway of com-
munication in Central Africa, and would be rapidly opened up
and developed. The Stevenson Road was constructed to con-
nect the two lakes. The African Lakes Corporation built stores
at various points on the road, and the settlements of Abercorn
and Fife were planned in such a way as to permit of their being
developed into flourishing townships.
These optimistic prognostications have not been fulfilled.
To-day the Stevenson Road has fallen into disuse, and in places
can hardly be traced. Most of the African Lakes Corporation
stores have been abandoned, and are now ruins. The post-office
of Abercorn remains a testimony to these unrealised antici-
pations. It is almost big enough to cope with a town the size of
Tunbridge Wells ; unhappily, to-day, the population of Abercorn
consists of six Europeans. Another testimony is the Victorian
Memorial Library at Abercorn, which contains so many books
that were the whole of the inhabitants of the place to read con-
sistently for the rest of their lives, they would not have digested
a tithe of the works collected there.
Whether the plateau will ever be developed depends on the
communications afforded to it making development worth while.
Should a railway run from Wiedhafen to the coast the plateau
may yet be peopled by white settlers, and have a good future
before it. It stands some 4000 to 5000 feet above sea-level, is
free from the mosquito, and has a pleasant climate. Its soil is
good, and almost untouched, except by the native cultivator.
There is one ' white ' cattle farm on it, and the goings and
comings of stock to the nearest market area, Elizabeth ville,
occupy months of walking, and the necessity of passing through
many belts where the tsetse fly flourishes. Cattle can only be
130 A MEMOIR OF EDWARD ANTHONY STEEL
moved by night, and valuable stock is protected during the day
by being stabled under mosquito netting. In some villages the
white man has hardly ever been seen ; or if seen, only at such
rare intervals as to make his coming an event of importance for
many a day. In the southern portion of this area, in the neigh-
bourhood of Fort Jameson, the country has been settled in to a
certain extent, and cotton, rubber, and tobacco have been grown
with success. The communications of Nyassaland, however, are
more likely to prove of value to this portion of the territory than
are those of Northern Rhodesia.
The treatment dragged on, his arm had to be reset, and
he had to undergo an operation to try and recover the use
of a nerve which prevented the use of the fingers. This
was carried out at Prince of Wales' Hospital, formerly the
Central Railway Hotel, and at length, in April 1918, he was
reported fit for light duty.
Anti- Aircraft Passed for General Service Embarked for
Mesopotamia Appointed Command Brigade Artillery Volunteers
for Service with British Military Mission, Siberia Journey
Singapore Shanghai, Visit and Festivities Vladivostok, Novo-
Nikolaevsk, Barnaul, Bisk, Omsk, Yekaterinburg General Jack-
Illness and Death at Omsk Letters from General Knox and Russian
Officers Summary Conclusion.
ON being reported fit for light duty at the end of April
1918 Major Steel was posted to the School of Instruction
in Anti-Aircraft Gunnery, at that time established at New-
port, Isle of Wight, after much discussion and prolonged
vacillation as to whether it was to be carried out by the
Admiralty or the War Office.
The defence of London, it will be remembered, had been a
topic of gossip in the first twelve months of the war ; a sharp
line seemed to divide those who thought a raid probable
and those who thought otherwise. The question was sur-
rounded by mystery, and the wildest conjectures were
afloat as to what, if any, measures had been taken against
possible land or Zeppelin attack. Londoners had watched
with curiosity the erections at Hyde Park Corner. It was
rumoured that learned professors had been asked to provide
a formula for high-angle fire at an object of unknown alti-
tude. A distinguished civilian, it was said, had been asked
to take charge of the land defences, whether he had studied
the principle of land defences or otherwise ; and it was said
that he had consented on the condition that he was to be
in sole charge, unfettered by advice or assistance of any
kind. As to the defence against aircraft, which it trans-
pired, to the astonishment of everybody, had up to that
time been under the charge of the Admiralty, we have
132 A MEMOIR OF
since been told that Sir Percy Scott was asked in 1915 to
take charge of it, and that he had consented, also on the
condition that he should be supreme.
These rumours may or may not have had a solid basis.
If so, they and several others of a similar nature that
recent controversies have elicited tend to show the great
difficulty that every administration has to reckon with in
finding capable individuals who can act in harmony with
others in a national cause. In business this problem seems
to have been solved ; but in affairs of state it would seem
to be otherwise. Perhaps some kink hi human nature
supplies the clue, and is the reason why politicians always
quarrel ; why Cabinets which are at the time supposed to
be united, when the memoirs of their respective members
come to be written are shown to have been in a chronic
state of discord ; why the War Office is always ' in a
muddle ' ; why the Admiralty, hitherto popularly sup-
posed to have been admirably and efficiently managed, has
lately, through the indiscretions of distinguished admirals,
proved to have been a hotbed of intrigue and jealousy ; and
why even ' marriage is a failure.'
But this is a digression, however true. The land defence of
London is still surrounded by mystery, though at the time
rumour had it that hard- worked professional men were de-
voting the last hour of their spare time in digging trenches
when they might have been more usefully employed ; and if
any one knows where they are situated, and on what prin-
ciple they have been devised, the secret has been carefully
As to the air, the story has been told correctly and
humorously by Admiral Sir Percy Scott with chapter and
verse ; 1 and it need only be said here that at the time we
are now writing of April 1918 it had developed into a
system, and Schools of Instruction had been established.
The defence of the capital had been taken over by the War
Office in February 1916.
1 Fifty Years in the Navy. See also The Dover Patrol by Admiral
Bacon ; and Memories and Letters by Lord Fisher.
EDWARD ANTHONY STEEL 133
Zeppelins came over London and dropped bombs in
September 1915, and then for the first time the idea of form-
ing an anti-aircraft corps was started. In the months which
elapsed before the War Office took charge much had been
done : high-angle firing guns produced ; high-explosive bullets
invented ; Air Force in sufficient strength (?) provided ; and,
generally speaking, land defence became an organised system.
Major Steel was sent to the Reserve Brigade of Anti-Air-
craft Gunnery at Newport, Isle of Wight, and after a
course there and at Shoeburyness was posted to the
Chatham district of Anti -Aircraft Defence, his work
consisting in inspecting the Anti-Aircraft batteries between
Gravesend and Sheerness, and in August he was brought
to Headquarters at Great George Street, the Headquarters
of the A.A.C. Batteries, Defence of London. A small group
of officers spent their time by day inspecting the A.A.C.
Batteries, and at night by turn sat at a table awaiting the
warning of the telephone, and took measures accordingly.
On September 5, 1918, having been passed by Medical
Board ' Fit G.S.,' he was ordered to Mesopotamia, and
started on September 24, about two years after he had
narrowly escaped with his life in the advance on the Somme
on September 15, 1916.
From Southampton to Cherbourg, and thence by train,
occupying nine days, to Taranto, and thence by transport
' En train, Oct. 4. You will be able to judge what sort of
a journey it has been when I say we have averaged seven
miles an hour. Officers herded in baggage waggons, and
everything rottenly managed.'
The following account of the journey has been given by
Julian S. Tritton 1 :
1 Julian S. Tritton, eldest son of Sir Seymour Tritton, K.B.E., and
Lady Tritton, served as an Assistant Engineer on the B.B. & C.I. Rail-
way ; took a Viceroy's commission in 1915, and became a Company Com-
mander of the Railway Unit of the Indian Defence Force early in 1915,
was transferred to the Royal Engineers on special duty at the War Office
M.R., and in September 1915 was posted to the I.E.F. Mesopotamia.
On arrival at Port Said he was transferred to the North-Western Railway.
134 A MEMOIR OF
' I was delighted on arrival at Waterloo to meet Major
Steel on the platform, and find that he too was Eastward
bound. It was the first time I had seen him for five or six
' From the start I very much appreciated his kindness in
taking a " 2nd Lieut." under his wing, as he did me. His
seniority and experience proved invaluable in helping our
little party through most of the discomforts unavoidable
in travelling with a party of about say 250 young officers.
' At Cherbourg the Major very kindly arranged with the
B.T. Staff for me to travel in his compartment in the O.C.'s
coach with Major Herschel and himself no small advantage
on a nine -day journey.
' The nine days passed cheerfully in spite of the everlasting
waits and halts, scheduled and otherwise, which never seemed
to depress the Major as they did the majority of us.
* It was at Taranto that I first realised how bad his arm
was. To attract his attention in a crowd on the platform
one evening I gripped his elbow sharply. It must have
hurt him considerably, but he only remarked, " Steady,
that 's my dickey arm ! " I imagine this arm gave him a
good deal of pain off and on during the whole voyage, but
he hardly ever mentioned it.
* We were all bound for Mesopotamia, but shortly before
reaching Port Said we got the news by wireless that the
Turks were on the verge of collapse. " Good news, that,
Major," I said. " What ! " said he. " Worst news we 've
had this trip. It will be all over by the time we get there."
While the transport was on its way to Suez Major Steel
paid a visit to Cairo.
' SUEZ, October 24.
* Still messing about en route. Nothing but delay and
muddle here, and this after four years, so I can't imagine
what it must have been at the beginning. Some officers
have lost all their kit. Most have lost some of it. I am one
of the lucky ones. This waiting day after day with
absolutely nothing to do makes one feel incapable of ever
EDWARD ANTHONY STEEL 135
doing any hard work again. Tritton says he has never
done a real day's work since he came into the Army, and
if he doesn't get back to his railways soon his brain will
rust. He has gone ahead of me, as apparently it is more
important to get to India than to Mespot ! I get a good
dose from the skipper on board every night of how they are
run in these parts ; at any rate there is no shortage of
' November 12, 1918.
' I went ashore at Aden and had a look at the water
tanks again that I had last seen when coming home with
you from India about 1887. Bombay was much altered
many good hotels, and motor cars all over the place owned
by opulent Parsees. We reach Basra to-morrow. I
expect to be there a few days, and then a trip up the river.
I gather there will be plenty to do up country, settling the
country from the Black Sea to Southern Russia.'
After a short stay at Basra, where he described the con-
ditions from which he was unable to get away, and incidentally
observed, ' I wish I had brought my Banjo,' he proceeded
to Baghdad by river.
c November 27, 1918.
' I have just met Thuillier, 1 Capt. R.G.A. ; he was in the
next tent to me in the rest camp, but I did not know it.
Leslie 2 is up the Tigris. Hacking is down at the base, and
Christy, who talked at my lecture at the Geographical, is in
the Malarial Department here. I have had quite a pleasant
few days in Baghdad, and have been very comfortable at
the Heavy Art. H.Q., who have put me up. The skipper
of the mail-boat that brought us to Bombay, "Dow,"
knew John when he was in the Centurion years ago in
China. He was attached for R.N.R. training from some
merchant vessel. I have just met Col. Percy Smith at
1 Son of Maj.-Gen. H. F. Thuillier, C.B., C.M.G., R.E., Commandant
S.M.E., Chatham, etc.
* Leslie Thuillier, Indian Army, his cousin, son of Col. Sir H. R. Thuillier,
K.C.I.E., late Royal Engineers.
136 A MEMOIR OF
Baghdad Club ; his father was at Gulmurg when I was there
in 1901. I am appointed (temp.) Lt.-Col. to command
55th Brigade R.F.A., 13th Division.'
It will be remembered that the first orders for demobilisa-
tion were that all tradesmen or, as they were called, pivotal
men who had been taken from the workshops were to be
returned first. This plan did not stand the test of practice.
Volunteers of earlier date saw no justice or reason for
conscripted men of later date being allowed to go earlier,
and a crisis ensued which caused a complete change in the
order for demobilisation.
This is a digression, but a necessary one, because it is one
of the causes why Major Steel went to Russia. His Brigade
was to march down to Amara, being depleted, according
to orders then existing, of all his best men, and he said by
the time he arrived at Basra he would have only the
skeleton of a Brigade left. He might, no doubt, have
brought hj!s Brigade home, retained his temporary rank
of Lt.-Col., and sat down quietly until the demobilisation
was complete, but this he could not do. When the call
for volunteers for Russia came, though he had to give up
his temporary rank, he volunteered. It would scarcely
be fair to ascribe his decision to volunteer for service in
Russia entirely to the foregoing cause ; owing to his long
disability, in consequence of his wounds, he had been passed
over by his contemporaries who had received promotion
and decorations, and undoubtedly he felt this, and was
anxious to find an opportunity to recover his position and
gain distinction by further service. Moreover, his chivalry
was awakened by that call of Russia for help.
' MESOPOTAMIA EXPEDITIONARY FORCE,
' 55TH BDE. R.F.A., 13/D., December 30, 1918.
' . . . The weather here is rough, very cold, and ice in
the mornings. Sometimes rain, sometimes wind and sand,
while the sun is never hot enough to need a topi, which is
rather nice. We are in tents, so it 's pretty stiff. The
Diyala runs swiftly by 100 yards across and the snow
EDWARD ANTHONY STEEL 137
is visible on the mountain tops. I have a pretty large
command four Batteries and an Ammunition Column
so I am kept pretty busy. Most uninteresting country,
and a dirty lot of diseased Arabs here and there in a few
scattered villages. Quite open country except for bunches
of date palms here and there, and the whole land is cut up
with canals a few feet wide and bunded both sides some
dry, some with water, just a big enough obstacle to prevent
one getting over it.
* I get through a good bit of riding, and have had one or
two shoots on Sunday morning. There is nothing in this
country except bird life, and that is very scarce, but very
good eating. Excellent partridges, but very hard to get.
My arm is holding out well ! and hurts just about the same
as ever. At present I am very interested in carpets and
read up a good deal about them. Officers have paid such
prices and bought such trash that the story goes that
London firms are sending their Oriental rugs out to Baghdad
to sell before the Army of Occupation goes away ! How-
ever, for those who know and can tell the difference between
vegetable and aniline dyes and old and modern work, there
are still excellent bargains, and I hope to pick up several
on my return to Baghdad, which will be very soon. We
are due to go to Amara January 20, whole 13th Division.
This is the only British Division out here. The feeding
question is very difficult here, so we are going down. Our
men are going home according to their trades, starting now.
' I have heard from Pope-Hennessy, 1 and he has invited
me to stay with him up the Tigris near Tekri, so I 'm
going to have a shot at it. I should like to have a look at
dirty old " Mosul," which I hear was the filthiest town in
1 L. H. R. Pope-Hennessy, b. 1875, eldest son of the late Sir J. Pope-
Hennessy, K.C.M.G., M.P., of Rostellan Castle, Co. Cork. Joined Oxford
L.I., 1895; D.S.O., 1908; p.s.c. ; C.O. King's African Rifles, 1900. In
European War, 1914 ; Bt.-Lt.-Col. and Col., Chevalier of Legion of Honour ;
G.S.O.2 in France, 1915-16 ; Commander 1st Oxford and Bucks L.I. in
Mesopotamia, 1916-17 ; O.S.O. 3rd Div., 1917 ; B.Q.Q.S. Indian Army
138 A MEMOIR OF
At the end of a delightful book, 1 Mr. Hale, writing on
December 29, from Kermanshah :
'The men have a Soldiers' Club where dances and
lectures while away the long evenings. . . . Arrangements
were made for a varied programme of sports on Christmas
and Boxing Days, but snow and rain prevented most of
the meetings. . . . Mesopotamia is going home, one division
has already started on its way to Basra. The troops up
the line now move, when they move at all, towards
' ABUSAIDA, January 2, 1919.
* I have not heard from you since the end of October.
There seems to be awful delay. I sent you a telegram of
New Year's greetings as my letter will probably have been
late. I am going off on a tour of inspection, one of my
batteries separated from the rest. I hope to get as far as
Hamadan, or at least to Kermanshah, if the snow on the
Pass permits of it. One Battery that has just come down
had to camp in two feet of snow. I shall return via Mosul
and I might catch General Pope-Hennessy on my way near
' Jan. 5. (Extract from Diary.) Left in Smith's car for trip
into Persia via Shahroban, Kizil Robat, Qasr-i-Shirin, etc.'
The gap in Col. Steel's correspondence between Nov. 27
and Dec. 30 leaves no doubt that his letter or letters have
His subsequent proceedings are thus explained in a
letter dated January 31, s.s. Sandakan :
' The last to you reported me starting off on a tour of
inspection in Persia, which I had hoped to complete via
Mosul and stay with Pope-Hennessy, but I received a wire
after some days out that I was appointed to join a batch
of officers proceeding to Vladivostok to train Czechs and
1 From Persian Uplands, by F. Hale. Constable and Co. 1920.
EDWARD ANTHONY STEEL 139
Slovaks against the Bolsheviki, so, though I had some diffi-
culty in passing my medical exam., I think it will suit me.
I find now the heat affects me more than the cold. It was
very severe on the Persian frontier, but I got quite used to
it. How it will be when it is below zero remains to be seen.
However, there is not much more to do in Mesopotamia
rapid demobilisation taking place and my command would
hardly have been a soldier's one. So I accepted this.
I am not sure how I am going, whether by Colombo or
Calcutta. I have got a paper authorising me to go to
Vladivostok, and in due course we shall arrive. This
explains how I have missed several mails.
' I was not able to see Sir John Hewett * before leaving.
He was lecturing to British officers in Baghdad on every
conceivable subject except that relating to his official visit.'
This letter arrived in England February 22, and on the
same day a telegram : ' Proceeding to Vladivostok.'
This requires explanation. When Major Steel was
Chief of the Rhodesia-Congo Boundary Commission he had
met Sir John Hewett, who was travelling in South Africa
(see p. 66), and as Sir John was starting for Mesopotamia
at the same time Major Steel had endeavoured to arrange
that they should meet again. This was prevented by the
different circumstances of their respective voyages, but when
Sir John Hewett reached Baghdad it seemed reasonable
to hope that they might meet there, and but for Major
Steel's necessarily hasty departure they certainly would
have met. Major Steel's remark about the lecturing
recalls an amusing episode about which the public would not
have heard anything except for a debate in the House of
Lords reported in The Times, November 28, 1919.
CASE OF Sm JOHN HEWETT
LORD LAMINGTON called attention to the action of the Army
Council in calling upon Sir John Hewett for an explanation of
1 Sir John Prescott Hewett, G.C.S.I., K.B.E., formerly Lt.-Governor
of the United Provinces.
140 A MEMOIR OF
his conduct in having delivered in January last at Baghdad a
private lecture to an audience of military officers, on the ground
that the lecture criticised the Indian reform proposals, and asked
whether Sir John Hewett did not in his explanation show con-
clusively that the action of the Secretary of State for India in
asking the Army Council to take him to task was without justi-
fication, and what action the Army Council or the Secretary of
State had taken on receipt of the explanation.
VISCOUNT PEEL, Under-Secretary to the War Office, stated
that the War Office received information from the India Office
that the lecture in question was of an undesirable kind, and had
certain results, one being that a number of officials in India had
been applying for posts outside India. Sir John Hewett had
gone out to Mesopotamia at the request of the War Office. The
War Office, having considered the matter, and in deference to
this communication, agreed to ask this gentleman for an ex-
planation of what he said. Sir John Hewett accordingly wrote
a full letter of explanation to the War Office. This was sent in
to the India Office, and the reply received from the India Office
was that the Secretary of State did not press for any further
action. That reply was sent to Sir John Hewett, and there, so
far as the War Office was concerned, the whole matter was closed.
LORD SINHA, Under-Secretary of State for India, explaining
the action of that Department in the case, stated that complaint
was made by the Civil Commissioner at Baghdad to the Secretary
of State for India, under whom he acted, with regard to the
lecture and the immediate result of it namely, that there was
an increased number of applications for employment in Meso-
potamia by permanent officials holding pensionable positions in
India. On that the Secretary of State for India asked the War
Office to call upon Sir John Hewett for an explanation. Sir John
Hewett was then acting as agent to the War Office in Meso-
potamia, and the Secretary of State for India had no right to
call for an explanation from him . On receiving Sir John Hewett's
explanation through the War Office the Secretary of State said
that he did not wish to press the matter further.
The EARL OF SELBORNE did not think the story reflected great
credit upon the common sense and courtesy of the War Office
or the India Office. Sir John Hewett was one of the most dis-
tinguished of our public servants. Such a letter as the War
Office sent him should not have been written.
EDWARD ANTHONY STEEL 141
EABL CURZON, Secretary of State for Foreign Affaire, said his
personal feeling of admiration and regard for Sir John Hewett
did not leave him an impartial judge, but he thought that the
Earl of Selborne had dealt out rather hard treatment to both
Departments, especially to the War Office. He had no doubt
that the inquiry addressed by the Secretary of State for India
to the War Office was a perfectly legitimate and bona-fide one.
He was not an admirer of official phraseology ; he spent a good
deal of his time correcting it. (Laughter.) The letter written
by the War Office to Sir John Hewett was not a model of the
kind of English spoken at the dinner-table or in the drawing-
room, but it did not cover any desire to be discourteous or offen-
sive. Sir John Hewett made a very effective reply, and the
Secretary of State for India retired with dignity. It was a scene
of combat from which every one retired with credit.
The MARQUESS of SALISBURY hoped that even yet the War
Office would express regret.
The motion was withdrawn.
Whether the hope entertained by Lord Salisbury was
fulfilled or not, the Army Council published the excellent
report of Sir J. Hewett at a price that enables any one
desiring to know the present value of Mesopotamia to make
himself acquainted with the facts. 1
The Revolution in Russia of 1917, and the subsequent
proceedings resulting therefrom, caused such confusion,
and even now are so obscure, that it is very difficult to
understand the circumstances in which these volunteers, of
whom Major Steel was one, were invited to go to Siberia
in November 1918.
In the Far East a very difficult problem was created for
the Entente Governments. An enormous quantity of stores,
mostly purchased from Japan, had been collected at various
points along the Siberian railway between Vladivostok and
Irkutsk. The port itself was blocked with stores that could
not be moved, and when revolution broke out they required
protection, and it seemed most natural that Japan should
be asked to undertake the task. An enormous number of
1 Report for the Army Council on Mesopotamia, by Sir John P. Hewett,
G.C.S.I., K.B.E. His Majesty's Stationery Office. Price Is. 6d.
142 A MEMOIR OF
German prisoners had been collected in East Siberia, and
the wildest rumours were afloat as to their numbers and
possible behaviour. The necessity for intervention was
apparent, and the murder of Mr. Ishido, Japanese merchant
in Vladivostok, necessitated the landing of a force by the
Japanese in April 1918, and much discussion in the Press,
and presumably in diplomatic circles, on joint inter-
vention ensued, as to which little is known, but the facts
are that some Marines from British ships were landed for
the protection of the Consulate at the same time.
Japan was prepared to intervene, but with a firm hand,
and perhaps proposed a joint occupation with U.S., but
this latter held the view that the Entente would be placed
in a false position by suggesting Japanese intervention
while denouncing German occupation of Russia in the west.
Moreover, that effective occupation would require a much
larger force than they either desired or were able to provide.
It seems to have been generally agreed that Japan alone
could effectively intervene, but by way of giving it the
semblance of inter-nationalisation it was arranged that
small forces of about 5000 men of each nation should be
landed in which move China also desired to join and
Japan occupied Blagovyeshchensk, then the capital of the
From such accounts as have been made public this joint
occupation was not regarded with favour by Japan, but
rather as unnecessary, as implying distrust or want of
confidence in her actions. Perhaps it would have been
better for us if we had advocated a more generous occupa-
tion by Japan. However this may be, the question took
another turn by the fact that some 15,000 Czecho -Slovaks,
under General Gaida, who refused to accept the terms
forced on the Bolsheviki by the Brest-Litovsk Treaty,
worked their way across Siberia intending to join the French
in the west. On arrival at Vladivostok, in June 1918,
finding it in the hands of Bolsheviki, they marched in and
took possession, and then joined in with the British and
French and other forces scattered along the railway. Con-
EDWARD ANTHONY STEEL 143
fusion was increased by General Horvat in July declaring
the independence of Siberia and proclaiming himself dictator.
This aroused protests from the occupying Powers, but no
one inclined to intervene, and Japan, who would no doubt
have intervened, was not invited to do so.
Another question arose when in July the Bolshevik Govern-
ment denounced British intervention in Archangel and
Vladivostok as unjustifiable and asked for an explanation.
This was followed by the murder of Capt. Cromie, attached
to the British Embassy and the British Consulate at Moscow,
in August, and by every description of propaganda against
the British and French intervention in both east and west.
In the west the reason for British intervention seemed to
be demanded by the fact that the treaties with Germany
by the Bolshevik Government opened the route via the
Black Sea ports to Mesopotamia, Persia, Afghanistan, and
India, and we already had a small force with a Mission of
about two weak battalions and a number of officers,
principally technical, to assist in keeping open the Black
Sea route, the Caspian and the Siberian railway, and
generally to advise and assist Admiral Koltchak, who had
now, with the support of the Allies, become supreme ruler
of the Anti-Bolshevik movement with the sole object of
protecting Allied interests and assisting in establishing an
administration that would maintain order.
Things were in this condition when Major Steel went
to Mesopotamia in September 1918. The Armistice which
was declared in November removed the German menace,
and the British Government decided to withdraw the small
military forces then in Siberia and limit their assistance
to providing additional officers for technical instruction
and stores they might require that they could not otherwise
obtain. Major Steel was one of several officers who went
The Party 1 left Basra for Bombay on January 23, by
1 Major (Acting Lt.-Col.) Steel, Capt. Hodges, Capt. Faber, Lt. Stratton,
Lt. Simmons, Lt. Allen. I am not sure of the rank of the three last,
and I have no means of verifying or communicating with them.
144 A MEMOIR OF
s.s. Sandakan, hired transport, arriving in Bombay on
February 1 . Then came a streak of bad luck which is thus
' NEGAPATAM, March 3, 1919.
' After writing my last from Bombay, I embarked on the
Dilwara, which was going round to Hong-Kong, but un-
fortunately we got delayed by a case of plague developing
on board and had to wait outside in quarantine. Then
the skipper's dog, which we had been playing with, developed
symptoms of rabies, and three of us had to go up to Kasauli
for an anti-rabies treatment, so we bundled off the boat, and
I found myself going through India again. After a long
journey and a three hours' ride up from Kalka on a pony,
I arrived in two feet of snow and everything looked
beautiful. I went straight to the Institute, got my first
injection, and settled down at the Club. Unfortunately
the treatment twice a day makes one feel very rotten,
and not always up to coming down and up to the Institute
twice daily. I felt all the time as if some one was sitting
on my chest, and no doubt it did my lung good as I
had to breathe like anything. After sixteen days of it
I proceeded to Calcutta, found Adolf, who is quite one of
the local magnates, and there is no doubt he and John
have worked up a splendid business, second to none there.
I lunched and dined with Adolf l in his beautiful home, and
1 Adolf Howeson, son of a life-long and dearly valued friend of the
writer, was educated at Uppingham and Oxford, and was in the University
Cricket Eleven. With his brother John he has for many years been
actively and successfully engaged in commerce and industry in Calcutta,
taking a prominent part in the industrial expansion which has been
a noteworthy feature of the Indian business world during the past
Oscar, his father, came to England as a boy of nineteen in the year 1848,
and elected to become a citizen of this country. After a short apprentice-
ship he went out to Calcutta, and started in business there. During
the Mutiny he served with the Calcutta Volunteers, and became a
sergeant. After a successful business career, during which he amassed
wealth, he retired from business, married, and devoted himself to the up-
bringing of his family, hoping to enjoy the winter of his days as an English
SCKNE ON THE OK.
GROUP OF OFFICERS AT BARNAUL, 1919.
Major Pattison. Lieut.-Col. Steel. Capt. Conlan.
Facing /. 144.
TRAINING RUSSIAN ARTILLERY AT BARNAUL.
LIEUT.-COL. E. A. STEEL AND MR. WILTON DURING RETREAT
FROM YEKATERINBURG, NEAR TYUMEN, JULY 1919.
EDWARD ANTHONY STEEL 146
saw Camac St. where you and his father lived together once.
The next day I went over a jute factory, and in the evening
left for Puri-on-Sea to get some surf bathing. It was great
fun, and in spite of my lung and arm I was quite the champion
of the Coromandel Coast in a Catamaran canoe. Un-
fortunately it 's rather dangerous. I then went to Madras,
had a couple of days to complete my outfit and embarked
on this ship. We have just put in at Negapatam, S. India,
and I will be able to get this posted before we go across to
Penang and Singapore. There I will probably find the old
Dilwara. There are only fifteen passengers on this tub
mostly missionaries going back to Australia ! I don't
seem to have been anywhere more than a fortnight since
I left England. Nothing but packing up and unpacking.
Just before I left Madras I got three letters from you and
some newspapers. I reckon to have missed about three of
your mails December 23 and 27 and January 6. Heartiest
congratulations to John on his C.B.E. Some mails seem
to have gone astray altogether. I hear that d'Arcy has
written to me several times, but I have never received a
word from him since I left England. I have just received a
letter from Mrs. Mallock, dated November 18, which she sent
you to forward on. I shall not give any destination in
Siberia, as if I leave for anywhere else there is always a
mess up, so I '11 give c/o Messrs. T. Cook & Son, Shanghai,
China. It would have been much better if I had had all
correspondence addressed to Cook at Bombay, then I would
have been able to pick it all up on my way back. Have
country gentleman. By his friends and they were many (including the
writer) he was regarded as a king among men. A born mathematician,
the possessor of knowledge gathered from a wide intercourse with men of
all nations, a musician of such a calibre that he might have made it a pro-
fession, it seemed that he might well have looked forward to an honour-
able and honoured retirement. He had, however, one fault. Himself the
soul of honour, he trusted to the honesty of his fellow-men, and this when
put to the test failed him. A member of the firm to which he had be-
queathed his name became an unsuccessful gambler in ' silver,' and in
order to save him from ruin Oscar sacrificed a large portion of his well-
earned capital, and, returning to business in London in the last years of his
life, he remained active until the day of his death.
146 A MEMOIR OF
you seen the new pay conditions of Indian Police ? Very
good indeed, as the life is so cheap for a policeman and
excellent opportunities if a fellow has any guts. Personally,
I would rather do that than Indian Army now ; I hope to
get into conversation with the rubber world at Singapore
and perhaps visit an estate if I am delayed. Wonderful
show, the British Army ; it is all over the world now, keeping
the peace, but there 's never any hurry and all done regard-
less of expense. I may be two months before I see the
snow again. It is real hot here, lying off the shore on a third-
class boat. I seem to go from snow to tropics alternately ,
and keep very fit on it all. My next will be from Penang
Jan. 23. Left Basra in s.s. Sandakan.
26. Left Jenjam Island.
Feb. 1. Arrived Bombay.
3. Left Bombay for Kasauli B.B. and C.I., Rawal
Pindi, met Jack Lock and Mr. and Mrs. F.
5. Arrived Kasauli. Put up at Club.
6. Col. Hodgson, I.A.
7. Major and Mrs. Carmichael, R.A.M.C.
8. Col. and Mrs. Talbot.
20. Arrived Calcutta. Stayed Grand Hotel.
Lunched and dined with Adolf.
21. Left Calcutta for Puri. Mr. and Mrs. E. W.
Viney in same train. 6 Hastings Street,
H. S. King and Co.
26. Arrived Madras.
March 1. Left Madras for Pondicheri, Negapatam.
14. Arrived at Singapore and went to Sea View
On Sunday he spent the day with General Sir Dudley
EDWARD ANTHONY STEEL 147
Ridout, who on hearing of his death wrote me the follow-
' His death was a great shock to me, for during his short
stay in Singapore I saw a good deal of him, and both Lady
Ridout and I were fascinated by his keen vigorous outlook.
He struck me as a man who was splendidly equipped with
mental powers and the possessor of unbounded energy,
and now he is gone, a sad loss to the Army and those who
value its highest traditions.'
March 24. Arrived Hong - Kong. Played tennis with
Mrs. Gray and Mrs. Mitchell, and left in
Olengyle on the 27th.
31. Arrived Shanghai.
April 1 1 . R.M.S. Monteagle. ' We have had a splendid ten
days at Shanghai, dancing every afternoon
and evening. Everybody did their best to
give us a good time, and we were all very sorry
13. Arrived Mo ji, Japan.
28. Arrived N.N.
' Novo NIKOLAEVSK, May 3, 1919.
' DEAREST MOTHER AND FATHER, I have at last moved
here after a very quick journey in the mail train twelve
days the time it used to take in pre-war days to go from
Shanghai to Berlin ! Most trains take three to four weeks,
but we were lucky not to be held up, though there were
many signs of Bolshevik work en route, most bridges
being propped up on piles of sleepers. They have done a
lot of damage along the line. Whilst mooning about the
docks at Vladivostok before the train started I stumbled
across my banjo box. It had just come off the Carmarthen,
and was being thrown into the Ordnance Department Store
along with the shells and howitzers and bicycles and
telephone wire, and you can imagine how pleased I was to
148 A MEMOIR OF
have it. It is in perfect condition. There is chaos at Vlad.
The Canadian Expeditionary Force preparing to leave, and
the handing over of everything to our people is a big task,
while our own ships are unloading every kind of war material
for the Russians on to the quay, and it 's a wonderful sight.
There seems to be no mail service for us. When any
officer is going up he is thrown various bags of mails for all
up-country officers, and if they are not there to meet the
train, they don't get them perhaps on the return journey !
It is almost impossible to find out when any train is likely
to arrive, so I don't know when I shall hear from you.
But as the banjo has arrived I know that you have heard
from me and are attending to all my wants. I feel very
lost out here. The Russians seem incapable of doing
anything. Everything is, " Never mind, it doesn't matter."
We call it the " Land of To-morrow." They never do
anything to-day as to-morrow they may not have to. It is
impossible to describe the situation here. I am off to
Barnaul, which is 150 miles due south of Novo Nikolaevsk,
which is situated where the Trans - Siberian Railway
crosses the Ob River. There is a railway (private) to
Barnaul and Semipalatinsk, but I shall probably go by the
steamer, which is getting ready to go now, the first trip of
the season. It goes on up to Bisk at the foot of the Altai
Mountains, and I shall treat myself to a little shooting and
exploring. Barnaul is to be the Artillery Training Centre
of the 13th and 14th Russian Divisions which I am going to
start off. At present they only exist on paper, I believe !
So they will want a lot of gingering up. They think they
are going to train them in two months with our guns which
are now arriving only so I am sorry for the Infantry.
The last blocks of ice are floating down the rivers now and
it is not too cold. There is no spring here, and summer
comes on without any warning pretty hot too. Up to
Vladivostok I had not lost a single thing of my kit, and
I had everything from a packet of toothpicks to an iron
for ironing my clothes. But on the journey up somebody
took a fancy to my Field Service Cap, so I 'm having one
EDWARD ANTHONY STEEL 149
made here. It will be a sight I expect. Everything is a
terrific price here, there being no trains for merchandise ;
but bread, milk, and butter are all procurable locally, and
that 's all. Sugar, tea, coffee, etc., do not exist. We have
all brought food cases with us, but life is plain for all here.
And it 's tea all day long. I have some whislfey, but can
only get boiling water to drink with it, so limit myself to
one drink before going to bed. Eggs are very scarce, and
I have just paid two roubles each for some which is sixpence
each at a minimum valuation. A rouble is now about
threepence instead of two shillings. I am staying in the
Russian Barracks, some two miles out of town, with two
other of our officers one infantry and one machine-gun.
Filthy dirty place, facing an immense Austrian Prisoners'
Camp. There are no roads or paths anywhere, and every-
body and everything is loathsome, and yet they all seem
happy and gay, officers included. There is plenty of
vodka, of course, but I haven't tasted any yet. I don't
quite know what I shall do. All plans are changed every
few days it seems, and both the French Mission and ours
seem to have great difficulty in getting the Russians to do
anything. I may be attached to the Czecho-Slovaks in
about a week who are guarding the whole line of com-
munications from Chelyabinsk to Vladivostok, or I may
go to Yekaterinburg in the Urals where a new composite
Brigade is being formed destination Moscow ! The only
bit of real excitement is that on May 1, being Revolution
Day, proclamations were stuck up in this town by the
Bolsheviki threatening Admiral Koltchak, head of the
Government at Omsk, and telling the Anglo-French Mission
they would be first too, as they see in us the sole obstacle
to their aims. If we left, there would certainly be an
end of all government. There is very little now even. I
am looking forward to a trip to the Altai Mountains, where
I believe it is beautiful, and I shall have to go and look
for an Artillery shooting range somewhere !
' I have given up the idea of getting letters. They will
all arrive some day all right. Don't expect to hear from
150 A MEMOIR OF
me regularly. I am very fit and well and have plenty
of ammunition, and, thanks to the wonderful constitution
you have endowed me with, I don't seem to mind
the cold either. It is impossible to say when I shall be
home. It may be next year. It may depend a good deal
on the Peace Conference if they ever do come to any agree-
ment about anything. I find it very hard to hold a pencil
these cold mornings. If they mean business here, I shall
see it through to the end unless the W.O. sends for me to
finish the Boundary Commission. Anyhow I shall not be
home for Father's birthday this year next year for certain
' PS. I am sending this back by an American friend to
Vladivostok, and it may catch the last boat going direct to
Vancouver with the Canadians. I will try a postcard *
through the Russian Post Office at the same time. It was
very lucky you always wrote to 3rd Echelon at Basra.
The Post Office is hopeless and letters lie for ages, and as
for papers, I have given up news. I wish I had ordered
Weekly Times 2 now.'
Entries in Diary
May 8. Left N.N. Arrived Barnaul May 9, 11 P.M.
,, 21. British Mission gave a dance at Barnaul.
31. Capt. Conlan arrived.
' BARNAUL, June 15, 1919.
' I have just returned from a tour in the out-district Bisk
to Semipalatinsk, where I have been inspecting different
training centres, and have found on my return an enormous
mail, and have now tabulated from you the following letters :
Xmas Day ; January 8, 22 ; February 3, 4, 5, 6, and 9 ; and
so on right through up to April 16, and papers too numerous
to mention, which are all very welcome. I seem to have been
out of the world altogether, and have had no idea what
1 Postcard not received.
a Weekly Times had been going to Vladivostok since February 8.
EDWARD ANTHONY STEEL 151
has been going on, as we don't get any realities. I cannot
possibly answer your letters now as orders are awaiting me
here to proceed to take over a new command at Yekaterin-
burg in the Ural Mountains on the Bolshevik front, where I
am going to form a sort of Anglo-Russian Brigade of
Artillery 2 batt. 18-pounders and 2 batt. 4' 5 howitzers
and more I cannot tell you. These Russians are quite
incapable of making any effort to regain their country,
and I believe would do nothing if it was not for us. All
the peasants in this country are Bolshevik and only want
a man to rouse them. Every week there is a station de-
stroyed along the line or some damage done, and if it were
not for the Czechs we should be in a bad way out here.
I am off to Semipalatinsk, the dirtiest, dustiest, and hottest
town in Siberia, and there will take a steamer down to
Omsk on the River Irtish. The journey on the river will
take five days, and I hope in that time to deal with some
correspondence. I don't know how I am going to get on
for clothes, as it is impossible to buy even a piece of cloth
except at fabulous prices in this land, and I brought very
little with me. I don't dare to trust my best khaki service
jacket and breeches, even if I could have them found, by the
Pall Mall Co. along the railway line. And really one never
knows when the whole show is going bust, and I 'm sure the
British Government will not lend us much longer to the
Russians unless they do something, and half the summer
has gone. It is beginning to get hot and dusty ; spring has
come and gone, and my lung will not improve swallowing
mouthfuls of dust, so the move is lucky for me besides being
a command after my own heart. We have nothing to do
with the Canadian Expeditionary Force, 1 and have never
had anything to do with them, and are lent to the Russian
Army, so any of the communications to the C.E.F. will not
reach me I fear. There are two " Steels " in it by the way-
one a Col. G. L. Steel ; his letters I get sometimes.'
1 This refers to the fact that the R.E.P.S. insisted on letters being ad-
dressed to Canadian Expeditionary Force.
152 A MEMOIR OF
' June 16, 1919.
'Since yesterday Captain Hodges, one of my officers,
has just been carried off to hospital with typhus, caught
from the Russian soldiers, no doubt, and so now we are all
in for fumigating and isolation for ten days, but I hope it
won't prevent my slipping off to-morrow. It is a loathsome
disease and generally affects the brain, so I hope nobody
else gets it. Unfortunately he has my blankets and pillow,
etc., as none of these chaps seems to have anything or can
think of anything ahead, and I have to go round outfitting
even the mess with table-cloths, china, and stoves brought
all the way from Mespot ! It is impossible to get anything
here except milk, butter, and meal all very expensive but
tea, sugar, coffee, jam, unobtainable. So I 'm glad to be
off ! Is chocolate obtainable at home now ? If so, I 'd
like some sometimes, and if I 'm not alive to eat it, it will
be gratefully received by any survivors ! I have never
felt the same after my Kasauli treatment, and when I have
had a hard day my legs seem to swell and ache, just as they
did at Puri-on-Sea when I was out swimming all day.
However, I 'm expecting great results from the summer
in the Urals, and expect I shall get clear from here without
contagion. I expect these Russians will be days before
they come and fumigate ! We have no Comforts Fund and
Canteens and so on out here like in the Expeditionary
Forces. I have heard of the Red Cross Commissioner at
Vladivostok, but I think he 's got the sack and it 's only
for the Russians. I am at present wearing a pair of
socks made by the ladies of Yokohama, but there 's no
heel to them made just like one for sleeping in, and I
couldn't walk far in it. If I have to send you a wire
about anything, I may wire to Richmond Symes, 39
Charterhouse Square, London, E.G., and I have told them to
pass it on.'
' SEMIPALATINSK, S. SIBERIA,
' June 17, 1919.
' Just a line from this out-of-the-way spot where I am
waiting for the boat to start. There is a sort of railway, but
EDWARD ANTHONY STEEL 153
only third class from Barnaul, as it was not finished before
the war began. The intention was to bridge the Irtish
River here and continue the line to Sergipol, but the bridge
is not begun and the line only laid in sections here and there.
This must be quite the hottest, dustiest, dirtiest town in
Siberia ; although it had poured for days before my arrival
there was then a good six inches of dust on the road. At
Barnaul I refused to get in till the train, or at least my
carriage, was washed and fumigated it always takes
twenty -four hours, sometimes two or three days. At
Semipalatinsk I was met and deposited in a bare room at
the so-called " Hotel Russie " by the Commandant, but
the next day I cleared out and got into the boat. These
boats are quite good, but the service is bad and the company
unpleasant ; the troops come down in the evening about
10 P.M. for a meal and vodka and occupy the saloon entirely,
and of course I have to join as it is no use going to bed, and
as I can't drink vodka I have to say I 'm a teetotaller.
I have a German prisoner as servant, so my German is
coming back quickly.'
He arrived at Omsk June 26 at 8 P.M. and stayed on
board all night. On the 27th he paid his visit to the H.Q.
of B.M.M., and on July 1 Col. Harvey * returned from
Yekaterinburg and gave him orders to proceed there. The
2nd and 3rd were passed in paying official visits to the
Staff, and on the 5th he left Omsk with Stratton and Simmons,
arriving at Yekaterinburg the following day.
Arrived there, he paid a visit to General Jack and after-
wards to the Ordnance Office. On the 8th he had another
conference with General Jack and with General Dietrikhs,
and lunched with Mr. Wilton. 2 The Times correspondent, in
1 Chief of the Military Mission.
8 Mr. Robert Wilton, author of The Last Days of the Romanovs, who,
referring to the photograph opposite p. 145, writes : ' We travelled
together from Yekaterinburg; the photograph was taken in the woods
near Tyumen. I afterwards saw a good deal of him while he was busy
with the Special Artillery Brigade.'
154 A MEMOIR OF
He next received orders to go to Tyumen, arid after going
there and returning to Yekaterinburg, he left for Omsk on
the 12th. A letter from Yekaterinburg, July 7, describes
the condition of affairs at that time :
' YBKATEEINBUBG, July 7, 1919.
' I only arrived yesterday, and between the time of my
leaving Omsk and arriving here the situation on the front
had got so bad that orders have been given for the evacuation
of this place before the Bolsheviki capture it. This state of
affairs is rotten. Everybody is very disappointed at having
to retire, but British officers are not allowed to go into
action. The departure of the Hants Regiment from here
has been the signal for a general exodus, and a stream of carts
pours down to the station all day and night ; those who
can't get on a train continue their down journey on country
carts. Only half a dozen of us are here. I am senior,
and there are others doing liaison and at the Russian School.
I am awaiting my trains with Artillery stores that left
Omsk before they could be stopped, and of course to be in
here at the death. Any night now the whole staff may
disappear without saying a word to any one. So we are
all on the qui vive. There is no firing to warn one of the
Bolshevik approach, so the Russian Army is simply trekking
backwards because they 've once started and no one can
stop them. Besides, no one puts any trust in any other,
and so every one thinks he is being surrounded always.
The town presents a very deserted appearance, and every-
body has got properly wound up. I see General Jack
daily now. He lives on his car on the railway with steam
up, and they are having their work cut out getting all the
trains away. He is very sanguine and ridicules the idea of
a Bolshevik coming here as long as an Englishman is in the
place to keep them back, but I don't trust anybody here
even the coachman of the house we are in and as soon as the
Bolsheviki are really here they will cut the line behind us !
and then a nice bag will remain, eight British Officers,
six Railway Mission and British Consuls. We can only
EDWARD ANTHONY STEEL 155
raise about six rifles between us. This is going down by
Hants' l train to-day.
' PS. I have sent to you a letter for forwarding to the
Minister of Pensions whoever he is. Just a few remarks on
them cutting my pension.'
To this he received this reply :
' SIR, In reply to your letter of March 3, I am directed
to point out that you have received the maximum wound
gratuity to which an officer of your rank is entitled for
wounds of a very severe nature.
' As regards the cessation of your wound pension the
Medical Board that examined you on July 27, 1918, did not
regard your disability as still very severe or likely to be
permanent, and as both these conditions are necessary
(Article 646, Pay Warrant) for continuation of wound
pension no renewal could be granted. I am, Sir, Your
' C. M. LAMBERT
' (for the Assistant Financial Secretary).'
' OMSK, August 2, 1919.
' I last wrote you on July 7 from Yekaterinburg, which
I 'm afraid is very long ago, but I have never been still since.
We had a week at Yekaterinburg, and I tried then to take
my guns down to Chelyabinsk as the Northern Army was on
the run, and no power on earth will stop them till the
Bolshe viki are tired . General Sakaroff at Chelyabinsk wanted
the Brigade to come to his army, but the Bolshe viki had cut
the line between Yekaterinburg and Chelyabinsk, and so we
had to return to Omsk : this took us two weeks instead of
two days. There were hundreds of trains each 100 yds. be-
hind the other the whole way. General Jack managed to
get nearly everything away from Yekaterinburg before the
Bolshe viki took possession a great feat, as the Russians
were quite off their heads. Train after train went out
with nothing but officers and women, and the whole Siberian
army has disappeared for the time being. On arrival at
1 The Hampshire Regiment.
156 A MEMOIR OF
Omsk I was just going off to Kurgan and Chelyabinsk when
news came that the latter place had also been evacuated.
It is going to be difficult to get out of this country for every
one, and things are in a critical state ; the armies do not
exist, and the rouble is about a penny. I am taking my
Brigade some miles down the Irtish, fifty miles north of
Omsk, so as to intercept any Bolshevik attack on Omsk
by Reds from Tyumen, which they will enter in a few days.
Some big decisions will have to be made now, one way or the
other. I will be glad to get out of this town, as the dust
everywhere seems to get down into my lung. It will take
me till the end of September to train this lot, so I cannot
be home till Xmas, but may have to see the winter through.'
' PS. I have enclosed letter from some people left behind
at Yekaterinburg to the Bolsheviki. I had ten in my waggon
coming down, including two families. It was impossible to
keep any one out. Will you post enclosed letter if possible? '
The letter was posted on arrival ; unfortunately the
address has not been preserved.
Entries in diary for August show that he was in almost
daily communication with Colonel Doroshinsky.
' OMSK, August 24, 1919.
' DEAREST MOTHER AND FATHER, I am afraid I have
not good news for you (my hand hurts too much to work a
pen). As you will have realised, the Russian Army has
become a demoralised mass and nobody knows where it is
exactly. It is no use hiding things. They have retreated
before the Bolshevik Army from Perm to nearly Petro-
pavlovsk, 250 versts west of Omsk, for no reason at all.
The Bolsheviki are advancing just in small handfuls, mostly
in country carts, and of course if they take Omsk the whole
country from Irkutsk westwards will rise in revolution and
we shall have some difficulty in getting out at all. There
is a small revolution going on at Barnaul and Bisk, and some
friends of mine there are wiring for help. Most that can
have cleared out, some into Mongolia and others towards
EDWARD ANTHONY STEEL 157
Vladivostok, leaving all behind. With winter coming, now
beginning, and the whole country fleeing before the Reds, I
can only leave to your imagination the prospects if Omsk, the
seat of government, falls. No one is to be trusted. All the
English soldiers have gone and half the Mission. Every-
thing has been thrown into the battle that is to be fought
in the next few days. If successful, there is no reason why
the Russian Army should not return to Perm as quickly
as it has retreated. That is the way with these semi-
civilised people. But if it fails and the army come flying
back into Omsk then it will be a case of Sauve qui peut.
If the railway is blown up behind us we shall have to fight
it out. Anyway I and four of my officers are training this
Brigade of Russian Artillery 2 batt. 18-pounders, 2 batt.
4' 5 howitzers but of course they can't be ready for four
weeks. We are in camp, some miles (15) outside, and I
don't like it being so far out of limit. The last regular
mail train goes down to-day (Sunday) with the H. Com-
missioner, Sir C. Eliot of East African fame, and the last
English civilians. My Brigade will retire and continue
its training, and we have volunteered to stay until they
succeed. A possibility is that we may then be transferred
to the Black Sea Front, Denikin's Army, by sea via India.
The War Office, ever anxious to back a winner, I think, have
decided to forsake this show. In a week's time we should
know the result. Don't be alarmed, it adds to the fun to
know the Bolshevik Commander has put a price of 25,000
roubles on any British officer's head. I haven't a minute
or the inclination to write to any one. Perhaps it is as well
I gave you Shanghai for letters. I may be there sooner than
expected ... if ever. Best love,
' Mails will not arrive till we know if we are to clear out
to the rear or not.'
' OMSK, September 5, 1919.
' Still no news of the decisive battle, though I understand
Vladivostok has received news that Omsk has fallen ! and the
rouble is down to about 400 to 1. Even if these people
158 A MEMOIR OF
win they will be quite unable to continue long as everything
has been thrown into this fight, and their only chance is the
Bolshevik cracking up. With six 1 nations helping them,
they are even quite incapable, so there is not much hope for
them. I am sorry to say the military missions of all nations
have been quite a failure here as the people (Russians ?)
won't do anything. It has got cold all of a sudden first
bit of snow if you please and it 's caught me unprepared.
Nothing is coming up owing to the situation, so I haven't
heard from home. Last paper June 21.'
The intended transfer of the Brigade down the Irtish,
mentioned in the letter of August 2, seems to have been
cancelled, and they remained near Omsk.
The last paragraph of Col. Steel's letter of September 5
gives the clue to what follows. The training of the Artillery
continued, but with the confusion that was going on and the
gradual withdrawal of the Mission it must have been uphill
work. The first indication of his illness was conveyed in a
telegram from Omsk dated October 14 :
' Inform relatives of Lt.-Col. Steel Royal Artillery
he is seriously ill with influenza at American Red Cross
Hospital Omsk. Will notify further change.'
The next intimation was that of his death and burial in
The Times, October 24.
The last entry in his Diary is ' September 12, Parade
of Jaeger Brigade.'
The complete story is contained in the following letter
and enclosures from Gen. Knox, the Chief of the B.M.M. :
BRITISH MILITARY MISSION TO SIBERIA
' OMSK, October 24, 1919.
' DEAR MRS. STEEL, I wish to express to you my deep
1 This is scarcely a fair statement. At this stage little or no help was
given by any but ourselves, indeed Japan was rather obstructive (see
With tlte Die-hards, Col. John Ward, C.B.).
EDWARD ANTHONY STEEL 159
sympathy, and the sympathy of every member of my
Mission, in the terrible loss you and your husband have
sustained in the death of your son, Colonel Edward A.
* As you know, he arrived in this country from
Mesopotamia in the early spring, and was at first placed in
charge of the training of two Artillery Brigades (24 guns
in all) of British 15-pounders at Barnaul. These Brigades
have since gone to the front with their infantry divisions,
the llth and 13th Siberian.
* I first met him on visiting Barnaul on June 12. He
had a very uphill task in trying to get the Russian officers to
work up to British Artillery standards, but he never lost
' In July I transferred him to Omsk to take charge of the
formation of two batteries of British 18-pounders and 2
batteries of British 4' 5 howitzers that were to be raised
here as part of the " Model Jaeger Brigade," the nearest
approach to regular troops that the Omsk Government
* Not only the guns, but the harness and saddlery and all
the instruments and transport were British, while most of
the horses were those left behind by the Canadian Ex-
peditionary Force on leaving Siberia. The personnel of the
batteries was Russian, but your son had six British Artillery
officers and a number of British sergeants to help him.
He gave himself heart and soul to the work, and any
efficiency that these four batteries have attained is due to his
self-sacrificing devotion to duty. The Russian officer is
a pleasant companion if not asked to work, but sometimes
difficult if pushed. Your son from the first earned their
respect, and, I am confident, towards the end, their
' He got a feverish cold early in the month, and after some
three or four days in his railway waggon he was sent out by
Major Cummins of the R.A.M.C., who had been attending
him, to the American Hospital some four miles from here.
This was on Tuesday, October 7.
160 A MEMOIR OF
* I rode out to see him the next day ; his cough was
troubling him much. He grew gradually weaker, and
though he had every attention from the personnel of the
Hospital he died at 5 A.M. on Friday 17th. The doctor
ascribes the fatal result of the illness to his having been shot
through the lung. He was with him at the end, and told
me he passed away without suffering at the last.
' He died on the morning of the day that had been fixed
for the first firing practice of the batteries he had trained.
The parade was, of course, at once postponed by the
Russians, who have been wonderful in their expressions
' Sunday, the 19th, the day of the funeral, was a wonder-
fully bright and warm day. The coffin, covered with the
Union Jack, was brought from the Hospital on a gun-
carriage to an open space opposite the Cathedral in the
centre of the town. There the procession was formed.
Representatives from every unit in the Garrison took part
Admiral Koltchak's Personal Escort, the 43rd Siberian
Infantry Regiment, a squadron of Siberian Cossacks, a
complete Jaeger Battalion, and immediately in front of the
coffin the four batteries. The pall-bearers were three
British Artillery officers with reversed swords on the right
Captains Faber and Hodges and Major Cameron and three
Russian officers on the left with drawn swords. The
charger was led by a British gunner immediately after the
gun-carriage. The mourners included all officers of the
British Military Mission in Omsk, and practically every one
of any importance in the official world, including the Com-
mander-in-Chief, General Dietrikhs, with many members
of his staff, a General representing the Supreme Ruler,
the President of the Council of Ministers, and General
Janin, Commander-in-Chief of the Allied Forces in Western
Siberia. The coffin was covered with wreaths, including
one from the Mission, from Admiral Koltchak, General
Dietrikhs, and all the Military Missions in Siberia. Just
as the cortege was about to move off, a little girl of twelve
brought a wreath and placed it on the coffin. We learned
MOURNERS FORMING UP IN CATHEDRAL SQUARE.
General representing the Supreme Ruler ; General Janin, C.-in-C. of Allied Forces in Siberia ;
General Knox ; General Dietrikhs, C.-in-C. of Russian Armies, Eastern Front.
GUN-CARRIAGE COVERED WITH WREATHS.
Pall-Bearers: Capt. Faber, Capt. Hodges, Major Cameron, Officers of Royal Artillery.
Three Russian Officers obscured by the gun-carriage.
Facing p. 161.
EDWARD ANTHONY STEEL 161
afterwards that she was a refugee whose family your son
' We walked the two miles to the cemetery slowly through
crowds that uncovered as the coffin passed. At the entrance
to the cemetery the troops drew up and presented arms as
the gun-carriage halted and the coffin was carried to the
grave by the pall-bearers. The Service was read by the
British Consul, Mr. Hodgson, the volleys fired, and the Last
' Your son's body lies in a small railed-off space with the
graves of two British soldiers on either side. We are arrang-
ing about a monument, and if possible would like to get a
plain white marble cross.
' The kit is being sold with the exception of a few personal
effects such as the sword-belt, field glasses, spurs, badges of
rank, medal ribbon bar. These will be sent you, also a
banjo. The revolver has been given to a Russian doctor
friend who asked for a personal souvenir.
' I enclose in this letter :
' A. Copy of Order No. 1308 issued by General Dietrikhs
on October 17 with translation.
' B. Translation of letter received by General Knox
from the Officers of the Model Jaeger Brigade.
' C. Translation of the Notice placed in the Russian
Press by the British Military Mission on October
' D. Copy of letter addressed by Major Cameron to the
Secretary Royal Artillery Institution, Woolwich.
' I think these documents better than any poor word
of mine, will prove to you the esteem in which your son was
held here, and how deeply his death is deplored. Yours
' (Signed) ALFRED KNOX, M.G.,
' Chief of British Military Mission to Siberia.'
162 A MEMOIR OF
Translation of Order issued by General Dietrikhs
' THE CHIEF OF STAFF TO THE SUPREME COMMANDER AND
THE COMMANDER-IN-CHIEF OF THE ARMIES OF THE
' No. 1308
' OMSK, October 17, 1919.
* This day, October 17, the British Military Mission and
with it the Model Jaeger Artillery Regiment have sustained
a severe loss in the death of the exemplary British
Artillery officer, Colonel Steel, who from the first had taken
a leading part hi the raising and war training of the Regiment.
' To the Model Jaeger Artillery Regiment, which has now
reached in every respect a high state of efficiency, Colonel
Steel, as an officer in the service of a great Power allied
to us, rendered every such service as might have been
anticipated from an honourable, regular trained soldier,
who devoted his whole soul to the task of training his own
' Thrice wounded hi action, and with lungs perforated by
bullet wounds, Colonel Steel spared neither his strength nor
his health hi fulfilment of the task allotted him, but un-
fortunately, being unable to support our climate, fell ill
with inflammation of the lungs and died, thus giving his
life to the cause he had espoused.
' In the name of the Army on the Eastern Front, in the
names of his comrades of the Jaeger Artillery Division
mourning his loss, and in my own name, I beg the Chief
of the British Military Mission, General Knox, to accept
my deepest sympathy in the loss we have sustained.
' I will be especially gratified to be assured that General
Knox will be good enough to convey to the relatives of the
late Colonel Steel that though this British officer died hi
Siberia, a land alien to him, yet he died for an ideal the
ideal of the re-establishment of Russia as a great Power,
and for the salvation of those who still struggle under
oppression and the lash in Soviet Russia.
' May the remains of the late Colonel Steel, taken to the
bosom of Siberia, rest as hi his own native land.
* (Signed) LT.-GEN. DIETRIKHS.'
EDWARD ANTHONY STEEL 163
Translation of Letter handed to General Knox by General
Volkov, Commander of the Model Jaeger Brigade
' It was with deep regret we heard to-day of the death of
Colonel Steel, Royal Field Artillery, who was an object of
esteem by all.
' During the three months of our collaboration with him
striving to promote the interests of the Russian Army, and
of the Artillery of the Model Jaeger Brigade in particular,
it became our habit to value him not only as an indefatigable
worker, fanatically devoted to his beloved artillery, but
also as a sincere and feeling man.
' With all our heart we grieve this loss and beg Your
Excellency to express our condolences and our sympathy to
the British Military Mission, which has sustained so great a
loss in the death of one of its best officers.
' Commander of the Model Jaeger
Brigade .... GENERAL VOLKOV.
Assistant of the Commander . COL. BUDKEVICH.
Chief of the Brigade of Artillery COL. DOROSHINSKY.
Assistant of the Chief of the
Brigade of Artillery . . COL. TJAPKIN.
O.C. of the 1st Regiment . COL. REMMER.
,, 2nd Regiment . COL. KRUSE.
C.S.O. of the Brigade . . STAFF-CAPT. ANDREEV.
O.C. of the Field Art. Division CAPT. MATSKEVICH.
Howitzer , COL. EROFEEV.
1st Field Battery . STAFF-CAPT. KONOPOV.
2nd . CAPT. DIETERICHS.
1st Howitzer Battery STAFF-CAPT. ROMANOV.
ft 2nd . CAPT. DVORSHETSKY.
Park CAPT. PANACUSHEK.'
164 A MEMOIR OF
Translation of Notice placed in Russian Press on Tuesday,
October 21, 1919
' General Knox and the Officers of the British Military
Mission wish to express their deep thanks to their many
Allied friends who attended the funeral of their dead comrade,
' They wish especially to thank the Supreme Ruler for
his kind message of sympathy, and for the presence in the
funeral procession of a part of his personal escort.
'They thank General Dietrikhs for his noble order No.
1308 in which he spoke of Colonel Steel's death in terms
that will go straight to the heart of every British officer in
' They thank General Volkov and the officers and men of
the Model Jaeger Brigade for their loving care and thought-
ful organisation of the funeral arrangements. They thank
Colonel Steel's old comrades Colonel Doroshinsky and the
officers and men of the Jaeger Artillery Regiment who have
worked together so well to produce the fine batteries the
citizens of Omsk saw to-day.
' They thank the many Ministers, Diplomatic Repre-
sentatives, and other civilians who left their work to follow
' Colonel Steel died from the result of wounds received
in France. He should not have volunteered for work
in such a climate as Siberia, but the demonstration of
spontaneous sympathy to-day showed that his work here,
though it cost him his life, has not been in vain. He died,
as General Dietrikhs has written, in a foreign land, " but for
the great ideal of restoring Great Russia and to save those
who suffer from persecution and oppression in Soviet
* The motto of his Regiment, the Royal Regiment of
Artillery, is Ubique quo fas et gloria ducunt. It is singularly
appropriate in this case.'
EDWARD ANTHONY STEEL 165
Copy of Letter from Major Cameron to Secretary
' To the Secretary,
' Royal Artillery Institution, Woolwich.
* I am desired by General Knox, Chief of the British
Military Mission to Siberia, to forward to you a translation
of an Army Order published by the Commander-in-Chief
of the Russian Forces on the Eastern Front, on the occasion
of the decease in Siberia of the late Lt.-Col. E. A. Steel,
D.S.O., Royal Field Artillery.
' The terms in which this Order are couched are sufficient
indication of the esteem in which the late Lt.-Col. Steel
was held and of the services he rendered to the cause for
which the British Military Mission to Siberia is labouring.
' General Knox desires that, if possible, space may be
found in the Royal Artillery Journal or Pamphlet for the
insertion of this announcement, since he wishes to convey
to the Royal Regiment of Artillery his appreciation of the
services of one of their distinguished Officers.
' AYLMEB CAMERON,
* Major, Royal Field Artillery t
* Personal Staff Officer to General Knox.
' OMSK, SIBERIA, October 19, 1919.'
On receiving this intimation of Colonel Steel's death the
following leaflet was published by the Royal Artillery,
with a copy of the Order by General Dietrikhs, as requested
by General Knox :
'THE LATE MAJOR (ACTING LT.-COL.) E. A.
STEEL, D.S.O., R.F.A.
' Lt.-Col. Steel joined the Regiment from the R.M. Academy
as a 2nd Lt. on January 6, 1900, becoming a Lt., April 3,
1901 ; Capt., April 4, 1908 ; and Major, October 30, 1914. He
served in India from March 1901 to October 1904, with the
166 A MEMOIR OF
West African Frontier Force from October 1904 to May
1908, during which time he served on patrol duty through
the unsettled portion of the Ibibio and Kwa country, and
with the Bende-Onitsha Hinterland Expedition (despatches
twice, medal with two clasps), also with the Anglo -Belgian
Boundary Commission in Northern Rhodesia in 1912. He
arrived in England from the Anglo -Belgian Boundary Com-
mission on July 7, 1914, for a rest. He at once reported him-
self for duty on the outbreak of war and proceeded with
reinforcements to France, joining the 35th Battery at
Soissons early in September. He took part in the fighting
in the north and in the battles of Neuve Chapelle and
Festubert, where he was severely wounded.
' He went home in the autumn of 1915 to train a new
battery with which he went to France in April 1916. He
was dangerously wounded on September 16, 1916, and
was in hospital till May 1918. After a short tour with
A.A. Artillery he proceeded to Mesopotamia to command a
F.A. Brigade, and at the end of the year volunteered to
proceed to Siberia to train Russian officers in Artillery.
During the war of 1914-18 he was twice mentioned in
despatches, and awarded the D.S.O. in June 1915. Colonel
Steel died at Omsk, Siberia, on October 17, 1919, whilst
serving with the British Military Mission to Siberia.'
The story of the British Military Mission in Siberia,
if it ever be told in its entirety, will assuredly form a chapter
on which no historian will desire to linger. So far from
the glimpse we have seen in the very excellent work of
Col. J. Ward, C.B. we know fairly well what happened up
to his leaving in July 1919. It discloses a story of Allied
diplomacy at its worst ; of international jealousies, of self-
seeking politicians everywhere only redeemed by the
courage and honesty with which the members of the Mission
endeavoured to reconcile their duty of encouraging the party
of which Admiral Koltchak had been accepted as the recog-
nised leader with that of shamefully abandoning them.
Not the least remarkable feature in this story will be
PROCESSION OPPOSITE CATHEDRAL
ANOTHER VIEW OF THE PROCESSION, CHARGER FOLLOWING.
Facing f. 106.
THE GRAVE OF LIKTT.-COL. K. A. STKEI..
I'\icing' p, 167.
EDWARD ANTHONY STEEL 167
that at a time when deserted by America, 1 thwarted by
Japan, but half-heartedly encouraged by the French, this
noble band of Russian officers from Koltchak downwards
combined to do such extraordinary honour to the subject
of this Memoir in recognition of the fact that he had
sacrificed his Uf e in their cause, and that the B.M.M. with
which he had been associated had given them their heartfelt
support under very difficult circumstances.
This Memoir, already perhaps too long, may be fittingly
concluded with an extract from the West Cumberland Times
entitled ' Countryside Crack,' over the signature of John
' The West Cumberland Times recently recorded the death
in Russia of Col. Edward A. Steel. This distinguished
officer came of a Cumberland clan which has a long and
honourable military record. The family has been associated
with Cumberland from mediaeval times.' The writer
passes in review the history of the family, giving copious
extracts from a Memoir of Col. James Steel, C.B., written
and printed by his son (the author of this Memoir). He then
comments on the career and death of Lfc.-Col. E. A. Steel,
quoting at considerable length from the R.A. Institution
leaflet as to his military career, and from the letter and
enclosures of General Knox as to his last service and death,
paraphrasing the description of the funeral given by the
latter. The writer then quotes from this the following
incident : ' Just as the cortege was about to move off, a little
girl of twelve brought a wreath and laid it on the coffin.
We learned afterwards that she was a refugee whose family
your son had helped.' (See letter of August 2, 1919.)
1 This refers only to official America, i.e. the Government of the United
States. The American Bed Cross, known all over the world for its unselfish
and unstinted help to all nations and in all countries and especially to
our own has been conspicuous in lending aid to the various Missions in
Siberia, and though, owing to the unsettled conditions at this time, the
members were being withdrawn, their work remained, and the Russian
establishment carried on its ministrations under Dr. Judd, to whom we
are indebted for the interesting photographs of the funeral and grave.
168 A MEMOIR OF
' These last two sentences,' continued the writer, ' are
the most affecting in the description of this impressive
funeral. They speak of a simple but a most touching
tribute to a kindly helpful man who was full of practical
sympathy, just as the other tributes testify to respect and
regard for an efficient and devoted officer who died while
bent on doing his duty to the end.' After further appre-
ciative comments on the arrangements for the burial service
so feelingly described by General Knox, and the spot in the
cemetery in which he lies ' with the bodies of two British
soldiers on either side,' the writer thus concludes : ' The
graves of the Steel family are scattered far and wide. There
are many leagues between Brighton and Omsk. The Indian
fighter whose career recalls a remote and romantic past died
in England. His grandson rests in Siberia after honourable
service in France and Russia. "But little he '11 reck if they
let him sleep on, in the grave where a Briton has laid him." :
NOTE BY MRS. STEEL
RECENTLY Major Aylmer Cameron, D.S.O., R.F.A., sent
us many ribbons which he had taken off the wreaths laid
on Lieut. -Col. Steel's grave the day before the Bolshevik
troops took possession of Omsk, also an oak box which
he says ' was made by the grateful hands of the Russians
for whom Edward gave his life.'
The inscriptions hand-painted on the ribbons are very
touching : they include one from the Commander-in-Chief
of the Russian Army, one from General Janin and the
officers of the French Mission, the Japanese War Mission,
and the Model Jaeger Artillery, and the Chief and Staff of
other Departments ; also from General Knox and officers
of the British Military Mission.
EDWARD ANTHONY STEEL 169
GENEALOGY OF EDWARD ANTHONY STEEL
EDWARD ANTHONY STEEL, younger son of Col. J. P. Steel, late
of the Royal Engineers, and Annie Josephine, second daughter
of General Sir H. L. Thuillier, Col. -Commandant Royal Artillery,
and Annie, daughter of George Gordon Macpherson, I.M.S.
COL. J. P. STEEL was third son of Col. James Steel, H.E.I.C.S.,
and Adelaide, daughter of Antonio Angelo Ramondo, H.E.I.C.S.,
and Elizabeth Martha Bland.
COL. JAMES STEEL, C.B. (1792-1859) was third son of Joseph
Steel of Cockermouth, attorney-at-law and Captain in the
Cumberland Militia, and Dorothy, third daughter of John Pon-
sonby, Esq., of Haile Hall, Cumberland.
JOSEPH STEEL (1758-1842) was fourth son of John Steele l of
Birks, Harby Brow Hall, and Hollins, etc., and Phoebe, daughter
of Richard Skelton of Rowrah (1728-1817). He dropped the
final ' e.'
JOHN STEELE (1721-1770) was eldest son of James Steele of
High and Low Wreay, Birks, Harby Brow Hall, etc., and Eliza-
beth, daughter of Anthony Benn, Esq., of Hensingham (b 1692,
m. 1714, d. 1791).
JAMES STEELE (1674-1752) was eldest son of John Steele of
High and Low Wreay, and Bridget, daughter of John Benn of
Scradgate, Hensingham (m. 1673, d. 1719).
JOHN STEELE (1641-1729) was eldest son of James Steele of
Threepthwaite (later of High and Low Wreay), and Bridget (not
traced, buried at St. Bees, 1645).
JAMES STEELE (1600-1673) was younger son of William Steele
of Crossfield and Threepthwaite, and Agnes (6. at Cleator, d.
WILLIAM STEELE of Threepthwaite was younger son of John
Steele of Crossfield ; originally a copyholder or customary tenant,
he became a freeholder, 28-29 Elizabeth (see F. of F. Cumberland).
Beyond this the ancestry cannot be traced, but they have
belonged to the soil of Cumberland since Edward in. (see Lay
Subsidy, 6 Edward in.).
1 The name, originally spelled with a final * e,' was changed to Steel by
ABBRCONWAY, LORD, 125.
Agnes, Sister, 29 and note.
Agnew, Lieut. K. M., 80.
Aisne, action on the, 108.
Ajmere, birthplace of E. A. Steel, 1.
Angelo, Kenneth M., 29.
Angelo, Capt., 21.
Aylmer, Cel., 5.
BARR, COL. SIR DAVID, 14.
Barr, Miss, 15.
Battery, 35th, diary of, 80.
Bates, Lieut. A. G., 80.
Battiscombe, Major C., 80.
Bradford, Major E. R. C., 1 and note.
Bremner, Mr., 69.
Brighton, Bruton and Osborne's
school at, 2.
Browning, Lieut. L., 80.
Bwana Mkubwa copper mine, 59.
Cameron, , I.M.S., 23.
Cartwright, M.ijor G. N., 80.
Cloete, Major and Mrs., 15.
Cockburn, Mr., 60.
Coleman, Frederick, 100.
Collingwood, Lieut., 117.
Colville, Capt. J. B., 80.
Colvin, Sir Auckland, 2.
Craig, Major T., 52.
Curzon, Lord, 16.
Curzon, Lady, 16.
DEACON, 2ND LIEUT. H. W., 82.
Dietrikhs, General, 162.
Dixon, Capt., 12.
Doake, Lieut. S. H., 80.
Dodgson, Capt. B. C., 80.
D.S.O., distribution of, 112.
Doughty, Marian, 15.
ETESON, COL., 2.
Eustace, Lady, 12 and note.
Everest, Capt., 58.
FERGUSON, LIEUT. P. H., 80.
Festubert, battery in action at,
Firminger at Colombo, 2.
Fisher, Dr., his mission station at
Kalene Hill, 76.
Franks, Capt. Norman, 14 and note.
French, Field-Marshal, his Order of
the Day of October 16, 1914, 90 ;
on the affair of Neuve Chacelle,
GIBBS, SIR PHILIP, 110, 111.
Gill, Major D. H., 80.
Gillam, Major B., R.E., 58, 64.
Gore-Browne, Lieut. S., 58.
Greathead, Capt. O. C., 8.
Guggisberg, Lieut. -Col. F. G., 45.
Guinchy, attack on, 124.
HAIO, SIR DOUGLAS, 99.
Hartland-Mahon, Major, 106.
Harvey, Lieut., 12.
Hedley, Col. Sir Coote, 73.
Helsham- Jones, Col., 2.
Henshaw, Col. C. G., 56.
Herschel, Major, 134.
Hess, Lieut. A. G., 80.
Hewett, Sir J. P., 66.
Holdich, Col. Sir T., K.C.M.G.,
K.C.I.E., C.B., 126.
Holland, Gen. Sir Arthur, K.C.B.,
K.C.M.G., D.S.O., 110, 113.
JACK, BRIG.-GEN. J., 153.
Johnstone, Lieut. G. H., 80.
K A I UK RlVKK, 64.
Kansanshi copper mine, 67.
Katanga, railway to Elizabethville,
Knor, Gen. Sir Alfred, K.C.B., 159
Koebel, Major H. A., 80.
172 A MEMOIR OF EDWARD ANTHONY STEEL
Lyon, Major, 3.
MAIR, COL. G., 33, 37.
Marne, action on the, 81.
Mellor, Lieut. Jocelyn, 8 and note,
19, 39 and note.
Moorhouse, Major, 3G.
Morgand, M. Pierre, 82.
NEUVE CHAPELLE, 100.
Norris, Sir Henry, 117.
OWEN, MB., 68.
PERRY, LIEUT., 119, 121 and note,
Phillips, Capt. M., 80, 104.
Pretyman, Gen., 18.
RAMSDEN, LIEUT. J. V., 8.
Baper, General, 4.
Reid, Capt., 14.
Ricardo, F. C., 5 and note.
Ridout, Gen. Sir Dudley, 147.
Russell, Lieut. G. R., 82.
Scott, Admiral Sir Percy, 132.
Sealy, Lieut. E. M., 66, 98 and note.
Simpson, Lieut. G. P., 80.
Solomon, Lieut. -Col., 129.
Steel, Major-Gen. J. A., 5.
Stewart, Dr., 41.
Stevens, Miss, 22.
Storey, Lieut. R. B., 80.
Sueter, Capt., 12 and note.
THUILLIER, COL. SIR H., 2.
Thuillier, Col. W., 9.
Thuillier, Sydney, 2.
Thuillier, Leslie, 135.
Thuillier, Capt., 135.
Tritton, Lady, 50 and note.
Tritton, Lieut. Julian S., 133.
WALLINGER, CAPT. E. A., 80.
Wanstead, Park Gate, 1.
White, Lady, 7.
Willoughby-Osborne, Lieut. D., 82.
Edinburgh : Printed by T. and A. CONSTABLE LTD.
f 'CSB LIBRARY
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